Posted on: November 30, 2022, 10:13h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2022, 11:22h.

Macau has instructed its entire resident population to undergo a daily rapid COVID-19 antigen test for three consecutive days beginning Wednesday, November 30.

Macau COVID-19 testing China protests
Macau residents undergo mass testing during a previous COVID-19 detection round held on July 4, 2022. The Chinese enclave is ordering all residents to test daily for the virus through at least Dec. 2, 2023. (Image: Reuters)

Today through Friday, Macau’s nearly 700K residents must take a rapid COVID-19 test and upload their results to the Health Code mobile app. If a person tests positive, they will receive quarantining instructions from the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government.

Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center said the goal of the mass testing round is to identify “hidden” infections. That’s where people who are positive for the virus are not presenting symptoms. The current outbreak across the mainland where China is reporting upwards of 70K new cases a day is seemingly a less-severe COVID-19 strain, as the bulk of the cases are asymptomatic.

Less than 10% of the current caseload is said to be presenting any complications from the virus. With China still initiating lockdowns — as required by Beijing’s ongoing commitment to “zero-COVID” despite patients not becoming overly sick — protests have sprung out across the mainland.

Macau Obeys Mainland 

Macau and Hong Kong are the two SARs belonging to China. The semi-autonomous regions operate under the People’s Republic of China’s “one country, two systems,” constitutional principle that allows the regions to retain their own governments, economies, and legal affairs.

China requires that both SARs follow its lead when it comes to national security issues. The pandemic has been deemed a national security interest by the mainland.

Macau remains the good child of the two SARs, as relations between Beijing and Hong Kong remain strained. That stems from the region’s 2019-2020 protests over China’s efforts to require Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to extradite Chinese fugitives to the mainland for prosecution. The Hong Kong protests succeeded, as the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was ultimately shelved.

“Zero-COVID” protestors are hoping to find a similar outcome by overriding the will of President Xi Jinping.

Reuters reported Wednesday morning that two giant cities — Guangzhou and Chongqing — have announced that they will be easing COVID-19 restrictions. The announcements came a day after demonstrators clashed with police.

The protests generated worldwide publicity and concern. The Communist Party’s stern response to the protests included rolling out military vehicles and tens of thousands of law enforcement members who are also Beijing loyalists.

COVID Concerns Will Remain

Though protestors are eager to end “zero-COVID,” Melco Resorts, the City of Dreams, Studio City, and Morpheus owner and operator, expects restrictions to linger at least through the end of the year.

Uncertainty around COVID-19 outbreaks is expected to continue for at least the remainder of 2022, with travel bans or restrictions, visa restrictions, and quarantine requirements being key factors impacting performance for the year,” a Melco statement read.

Melco, one of the six licensed casino operators in Macau, was issued a new 10-year gaming concession over the weekend. The group says its business in Manila has largely rebounded from the pandemic, and Melco is optimistic about its Q2 2023 entry into Cyprus with City of Dreams Mediterranean.

But with Melco most dependent on Macau, the company reported a net operating loss of $243.8 million in the third quarter of 2022.