Macau began its second day of mass COVID-19 testing on Monday after dozens of locally transmitted cases were discovered over the weekend, with most businesses shut but casinos remaining open.
The testing of Macau's roughly 600,000 residents is expected to end on Tuesday as the Chinese-ruled former Portuguese colony adheres to China's "zero COVID" policy.The casino hub recorded 31 cases on Sunday, ending an eight-month streak of zero infections, the Macao government announced in a Facebook post.
Macau's previous coronavirus outbreak was in October last year. An outbreak in the neighbouring Chinese territory of Hong Kong this year saw more than 1 million confirmed infections, and more than 9,000 deaths, swamping hospitals and public services.While Hong Kong has seen an increase to over 1,000 daily cases in the past week, officials have said they are unlikely to further tighten restrictions as the pressure on medical services has not increased.
Macau only has one public hospital and its services are already stretched on a daily basis. The territory's swift plan to test its entire population comes as it keeps open the border with mainland China, with many residents living and working in the neighbouring Chinese city Zhuhai.
China in contrast has not opened its borders to Hong Kong, with the financial hub largely isolated from the mainland and the international world.
Macau's legislature is this week due to approve an amended gaming law which will lay the groundwork for what is required from the multibillion dollar casino operators to continue operating.