The past few months have been one of the most difficult periods in Macao’s recent history. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus plunged the whole world into a crisis. But, since the first cases of the virus were announced in Macao in January, two things have happened that have set our city apart. Firstly, the people have supported each other, followed the health and safety guidelines and worked together to make sure that the damage caused by this virus has been kept as minimal as possible. Secondly, the government has enacted extraordinary measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, putting the lives of the people above all else.
Until new cases in Macao were announced in mid-March, the government had allowed life to return pretty much to normal within just two months after the first cases had been reported. The territory may not be ‘back to normal’ just yet due to the new cases but the government’s response from day one has allowed Macao’s society to learn the best ways to deal with the epidemic and has motivated everyone to get through it together.
Just over one month after being sworn in as Macao’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng took the lead in fighting the coronavirus. Since then, he has determined strong and extraordinary measures that have led to the temporary closure of public services, schools, universities, gaming establishments and entertainment areas while also providing financial assistance to companies and residents. Ho has also imposed important immigration control measures to minimise the risk of infection while making sure there has been an ample supply of surgical masks for the entire population. These measures have been praised not only in Macao but also internationally.
This difficult period has also seen a surge of new technologies that the government has cleverly used to communicate with residents on instructions and measures to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. The government’s actions and the population’s response is, in fact, discussed in our feature, which aims to show what has been done and how it has been done.
We also have some other features to read that I want to flag up to you. During a time where Macao’s tangible attractions have been closed or inaccessible, we take the opportunity to dive into our city’s intangible heritage – from our processions to Cantonese operas – so that readers can learn about the city beyond its facade. A story on Macao’s famous personalities who stood out in the territory once upon a time also shows our city’s rich and diverse history of bringing together people and talents from across the world.
Looking at the cross-section between business and Portuguese-speaking countries, we talk to the people behind the Macao Young Entrepreneur Incubation Centre to learn about their progress and hopes and how they are bridging entrepreneurial talent between Macao, China and Portuguese-speaking countries. And on a worldwide scale, we look into the booming agricultural sector in Angola, a country which has huge untapped swathes of arable land.
It is a tough time for us all at the moment but we will get through this epidemic and, once it is over, we will all emerge stronger, wiser and closer as a community.
*Photo by Xinhua News Agency/Cheong Kam Ka