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Chinese casino hub Macau orders mass testing & closure of most venues to combat cluster of Covid-19 infections

Officials in Macau, China, often called the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’, have ordered mass testing for Covid-19 and shut down most of the city’s entertainment venues after a cluster of infections was discovered.

Authorities set up 41 testing stations across the city, which will operate non-stop for three days. The measure was introduced after four cases were reported on Tuesday in Macau, a former Portuguese colony and a popular casino hub with a population of 660,000.

Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng was quoted by Chinese media as saying that the four patients are members of one family, which includes a girl who got infected while flying to the city of Xi’an with her school dance troupe.

In order to stop the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, nearly all entertainment venues will be closed starting Thursday, including bars, nightclubs, beauty salons, massage parlors, bowling alleys, pool halls, gyms, internet cafes, theaters, and bathhouses.

The city’s famous casinos will remain open, but patrons must have health passes and wear masks when gambling. Macau previously went into lockdown in 2020, during which the casinos were closed for 15 days.

While China has managed to largely contain the outbreak of Covid-19, virus hotspots have been resurging across the country.

This week, officials ordered testing for the entire population of Wuhan, the city of 12 million people where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was first discovered. The decision was made after seven locally transmitted cases were reported in Wuhan on Monday, the first appearance of the disease there since June 2020.

Other infection clusters were discovered last month in Nanjing, the capital of the eastern Jiangsu Province, and Ruili, a town on the border with Myanmar, where mass testing and new quarantine restrictions were also ordered.

Overall, 93,289 people have been infected with Covid-19 in China since the start of the pandemic and 4,636 have died, according to the government.