Macau registers first virus case in months

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Macau’s recovery slower than expected; linked to Chinese economy

Macau has registered its first coronavirus case since June, in a returned passenger arriving last Thursday.

Asgam reports a government issued statement revealed the patient, a 43-year-old female, had travelled from Dubai to Singapore before landing in Tokyo where she joined the return flight back to Macau.

Although asymptomatic, she tested positive to two rapid nucleic acid tests as required for all passengers and crew.

The woman was sent to Macau’s Conde de S.Januario Hospital and is now in isolation, as are eight passengers seated nearby who are awaiting the results of further tests.

There were a total of 109 passengers on the two Air Macau flights, with the rest transported on Thursday to Grand Coloane Resort to begin their 21-day mandatory hotel quarantine.

As per new government guidelines, they will also be required to undergo an additional seven days of “self-health management.”

As previously reported, the government implemented a closed loop system for the return of the passengers to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 into the community.

There had originally been 115 passengers booked on the flight but five opted not to travel while one passenger was refused entry after testing positive ahead of the home flight.

The passengers came from several high risk countries including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States and Japan.

Macau gambling revenue nosedived in 2020

Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue fell almost 80 per cent in 2020 amid disruption to travel and the economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

GGR Asia reports that data, released last Friday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau revealed Macau’s GGR was US$7.57 billion in 2020, compared to almost five times that in 2019.

The year 2020 closed with December gross gaming revenue down 65.8 per cent from a year earlier, the lowest monthly rate of year-on-year decline since January.

The December tally was just under US979 million, up 15.9 per cent compared with the previous month.

Fourth-quarter data on the relative contribution to Macau GGR from the VIP segment versus the mass segment won’t be available until a later date.

From September 23, China’s Individual Visit Scheme exit visa system was fully reinstated for mainland residents wishing to visit Macau as independent travellers.

The return of IVS coincided with some improvement in Macau tourism numbers.

The mainland is currently the only place to have a travel bubble with Macau that is most-based on a quarantine-free approach.

In a Tuesday note, JP Morgan Securities Asia Pacific said investors in Macau gaming stocks should not view too enthusiastically the news that the daily average of Macau visitors during the December 23 to 27 Christmas season was greater than the daily average in either November or October.

Macau visitor volumes had “shown little” in the way of positive correlation with the city’s casino GGR in the past, stated the institution.

“December could mark the first month since April that fails to deliver month-on-month improvement in visitor volume to Macau, said analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi.

The coronavirus pandemic has decimated gambling revenue in Macau.

Yahoo Finance reported that in November, Macau gaming revenue is down 80.5 per cent in 2020 to $6.58 billion, according to the latest figures from Macau’s gaming bureau.

In November, Macau gaming revenue fell 70.5 per cent to $845.34 million, which was worse than the 65 per cent decline analysts expected, but better than the past six months, with each saw 90 per cent declines.

In June, Macau gaming revenue dropped 97 per cent year-on-year to $89.7 million, its lowest monthly gaming revenue ever.

The numbers have picked up since then, suggesting casinos there have seen the worst of the damage and are on their way back, though a recovery is likely to be very slow.

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