Unofficial reports are coming out of China and its administrative districts of Macau and Hong Kong of widespread SARS-CV-2 infections among the populations.
On the heels of civil unrest related to Beijing’s “zero-Covid” policy, the government has decided to ease restrictions and learn to live with the virus, easing restrictions and opening borders.
In Macau, as many as half of the casino employees are currently infected at one property on Cotai, according to a report in IAG quoting an unnamed source that works at the casino property.
The Chinese government is not known for transparency or accurate public reporting, according to western media, so anecdotal reports from trusted sources are about as close to the truth on the ground as most people are going to get.
Only 1/6 Infected According to Officials
According to GGRAsia, official numbers as of Friday indicated that about 1/6th of Macau residents had tested positive for the virus. However, at least three casino resorts and many food and beverage outlets have been closed recently.
The media source surveyed Macau concessionaire websites for closures and found that well over a dozen food and drink establishments at Galaxy Macau were showing as “temporarily closed until further notice”.
It was unclear whether staffing shortages were responsible for the closures with only 3 listed as being “temporarily closed from 25 to 27 December”.
While no reason was given, Wynn Palace noted on its website: “We have adjusted the operating hours of, or closed, certain parts of our facilities”.
The website notices were similar elsewhere with some properties not listing any updates for restricted hours or temporary closures.
While some areas of the world isolated from foreigners, tracked the viral outbreak, quarantined, and vaccinated the population successfully, China’s policy of zero tolerance combined with perhaps less effective vaccines has left the population vulnerable with very low effective “herd immunity”.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized the country’s zero-covid policy back in May, stating that it was not sustainable and urged them to relax it.
Too much relaxation, too fast, has created a situation that will render unpredictable results. The spread of the virus may be next to impossible to track now since mandatory testing has been abolished and the population of more than 1.4 billion residents no longer have travel restrictions within the country.
Expecting a Quick Turn-around
However, some locals are expecting a fairly quick turn-around.
A gaming industry representative told Inside Asia Gaming, “There is now a massive infection, and it’s happening so fast that the public is even fearful, which seems to be more than anyone expected. We can only hope for a real recovery in the second half of January, once the people of Macau have become accustomed to living with the virus.”
Investors seemed to experience a disconnect on Tuesday as share prices rose. In late November Macau gaming stocks soared, some with their greatest gains ever after the government announced that six new concessions for 10-year licenses would be granted to the existing operators.
The edging up of stock prices seemed to be triggered by the announcement that international visitors would no longer be subjected to a 5-day quarantine after January 8, 2023. All that will be needed is a negative test result in the 2 days prior to arrival.
Chinese authorities also indicated recently that no more reporting of Covid deaths would be forthcoming and close-contact tracking would be discontinued.
Source: Macau outbreak: over 50% of concessionaire employees said to be infected, operations severely affected, Inside Asian Gaming, December 25, 2022