A shortage of essential medications is expected to gradually affect local patients as both sea and land public passenger transports between the two Special Administrative Regions have been halted.
Lo Iek Long, medical director of the Conde São Januário Hospital (CHCSJ), did not give a direct response to a question about the existence of a mechanism facilitating access of life-saving medicine not available in Macau.
Some local patients have been on medications crucial to their therapy prescribed by doctors in other places that are not accessible in Macau. The current Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to stricter immigration control, will likely present a challenge to these patients.
The Times has recently learned from a reader that his parent’s medication is running out. The medication, which is not available in Macau, is a crucial part of an ongoing targeted therapy.
According to the reader, the CHCSJ is aware of the therapy. The hospital has been monitoring the condition of the patient, although the patient was not delivered to Hong Kong through the formal government scheme of outsourced medical assistance.
Under the aforementioned scheme, patients with urgent medical needs that are beyond the capability of the local medical system to address will be sent to neighboring cities, in most cases Hong Kong, for assistance.
However, there are some criteria that the patients must meet in order to become eligible for the scheme. One of the criteria is that the illness must be life-threatening.
The reader is not confident that his parent’s case would be categorized as such a case, but at least the medication has been working on the patient.
In previous press conferences, the government has stressed the importance of respecting the immigration policies in place in other places and warned against bringing further infection risks to the city by traveling. People are now in search of ways to gain access to the medicines without visiting Hong Kong.
Despite the lack of reference to an actual mechanism in Lo’s answer, the medical doctor acknowledged the needs of these patients by “putting himself in these patients’ shoes.”
“Indeed, when they’re in certain therapy, they do hope to carry on with the therapy,” Lo said. “But of course, the current border control measures may make it difficult for them to achieve that.”
The medical director pledged that the Health Bureau (SSM) would offer help to these patients with full effort. He also noted that needs have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“I believe we need to consider it case-by-case: what type of medication they are on and whether this medication is really inaccessible in Macau; as well as whether we have other appropriate substitute plans,” Lo explained. “All these factors need to be analyzed along with the patients.”
He also recommended two ways that these patients can help ease their problems. Either they can contact the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center to file an inquiry, which will then be referred to a concerned specialist department; or in an emergency situation, they can approach the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of the CHCSJ for help. The doctor stressed that the A&E Department is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
There was no mention, however, of how the Health Bureau will help source the crucial medicine absent in Macau.
ONE MORE HOTEL
WRAPPING UP MISSION
The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), represented by official Inês Chan, announced yesterday that another designated hotel has accomplished its mission hosting quarantined guests. It is the Treasure Hotel, located on mid-hill opposite the airport.
Now that the hotel has completed its mission, there are currently nine hotels hosting guests undergoing 14 days of monitored quarantine. Chan disclosed that a total of 1,469 people are now under quarantine at the designated hotels. Among them, 1,208 are Macau residents, while the remaining 261 are non-resident workers or tourists.
At the legislative session yesterday morning, a representative from the Tourism Fund disclosed that the quarantine hotel mission would likely cost the government about 50 million patacas. Chan added some comments to the information given at the daily press conference yesterday. She said that the amount is subject to change as the pandemic is still going on. Any change to the situation may bring about the need for more or fewer quarantine facilities.