People who visited crowded areas or activities over the Tomb Sweeping Day long weekend should start practicing 14 days of self-health management, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
The large crowds at popular scenic areas and tourist spots over the four-day holiday that ended on Sunday triggered concerns about the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.
“In order to enhance the nation’s disease prevention capacity, we require people to make advance preparations for flexible working hours and working spaces,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
Photo: Chang Yi-chen, Taipei Times
“People who visited crowded places or activities should wear a mask, avoid unnecessary outings, strictly practice social distancing, avoid going to school or work if they develop any symptoms and seek medical attention or the call the 1922 hotline,” the minister said.
They should tell their doctor if they develop symptoms such as a fever, coughing, other respiratory problems, diarrhea, or a loss of the senses of smell or taste, he said.
It would be best if people under self-health management work at home, while students should tell their teachers about their travel history, and healthcare professionals should expand their testing criteria to include people who recently visited crowded sites who have symptoms that cannot be excluded from the possibility of COVID-19 infection, Chen added.
However, by “crowded places or activities” the center was not just referring to the 11 tourist spots that it listed in text messages on Saturday reminding the public to avoid crowded places and keep a proper social distance, Chen said.
If people visited other crowded places for a prolonged length of time over the long weekend, they should also practice self-health management, and if they cannot work at home, they should strictly practice the aforementioned measures, as well as social distancing, wearing a mask and frequently washing their hands, he added.
The government cannot provide a comprehensive definition of “crowded places” and it is up to every person to protect themselves, their coworkers and their family when making such decisions, he said.
Employers cannot punish employees who ask for sick leave if their recent travel history could have put them at risk and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, he added.
While Chen said he was sorry that some store owners at tourists sites felt the center’s warnings had cost them business, the crowds at such sites had been far worse than the center had anticipated, and the cost to society from cluster infections would be greater than such losses.
The warnings had been necessary, he said.
The CECC would not ban all business activities, but it would adjust policies according to the current situation, with “disease prevention the priority,” he said.
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