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China Covid Outbreak Worsens as Macau Shuts Down Grand Lisboa

More than a dozen cases were identified in the casino on Tuesday, as mainland China’s battle against the coronavirus continued with more than 400 new infections.

China's Covid-19 Surge Hits Macau
SJM's flagship Grand Lisboa, left, towers over the old Casino Lisboa. File photo: Reuters


Macau’s iconic Grand Lisboa hotel is under lockdown as the former Portuguese colony battles a Covid-19 surge.

More than a dozen cases were identified in the casino on Tuesday, as mainland China’s battle against the coronavirus continued with more than 400 new infections.

At least 16 other buildings across the Chinese special administrative region are also locked down with no one allowed to exit or enter.

Authorities have placed more than 13,000 of Macau’s 650,000 people under quarantine orders as the city battles to contain its biggest outbreak since the pandemic began.

Macau has recorded more than 900 coronavirus infections since mid-June, prior to that it had largely been Covid-free since an outbreak in October 2021.

The Grand Lisboa is the second casino hotel locked down in recent weeks. Owned by SJM Holdings, which was started by former Macau kingpin Stanley Ho, the hotel is one of the city’s most well known landmarks.

Local media showed photos of the hotel sealed off with people in protection gear and hazmat suits standing outside. The Grand Lisboa was not immediately available for comment.


Part of China’s Zero-Covid Policy

While the government has stopped short of imposing a full-scale lockdown in the former Portuguese colony, previously seen in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, most facilities are shut and restaurants can only provide takeaway food.

Residents have been asked to stay at home as much as possible and are required to take part in three citywide Covid-19 tests this week. People are also required to take rapid antigen tests in between.

Only Macau’s casinos have been allowed to stay open in a move to ensure job security. The government relies on the industry for more than 80% of its tax revenue with most of the population employed directly or indirectly by the casino resorts.

While casinos are physically open, there are few patrons inside and only a small number of staff, with many employees asked to stay at home to comply with the government’s request.

Macau adheres to China’s “zero-Covid” policy, which aims to eradicate all outbreaks, at just about any cost, running counter to a global trend of trying to co-exist with the virus.

It still has an open border with mainland China, with its economy firmly hinged to the inflow of Chinese visitors.

Mainland China reported 427 new cases on Tuesday, compared with 413 the previous day.

Shanghai ordered residents in nine of its 16 districts to undergo two rounds of mandatory testing, while Xi’an suspended all dine-in services and shut schools, pubs and karaoke parlours for a week.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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