The next two weeks are critical for containing the COVID-19 outbreak, which hinges on the cooperation of confirmed cases and the public, infectious-disease experts said on Saturday.
After a sharp spike in cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center on Saturday raised the pandemic alert for Taipei and New Taipei City to level 3 until May 28.
While serious, Taiwan would make it through if the outbreak is contained over the next two weeks, said Chen Yee-chun (陳宜君), director of National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) Division of Infectious Diseases.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
Cases have been climbing so rapidly due in part to the reluctance of confirmed cases to report their whereabouts, Chen said.
If there are any omissions, it makes it difficult to trace all of the contacts and prevent the virus from spreading further, she said.
Those who do not immediately report the places they have visited are exposing their friends and family to the greatest risk, she added.
Photo: Cheng Ming-hsiang, Taipei Times
The spread of the UK variant should serve as a warning that people can no longer indulge in a sense of superiority about Taiwan’s pandemic success, Chen said.
“The medical world is most scared of the India variant, as it is more virulent and deadly,” she added.
Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital deputy superintendent Chiu Cheng-hsun (邱政洵) said that he was “extremely surprised” at the 10 percent positivity rate at screening centers in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華).
At the height of the outbreak in New York last year, the positivity rate was also about 10 percent, Chiu said, adding that the rate in New Delhi has been higher than 30 percent.
A worst-case scenario would be if Taiwan saw more than 1,000 cases in one month, NTUH Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases physician Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) said.
Raising the threat level in Taipei and New Taipei City presents an opportunity to contain the outbreak, Lee said, adding that as long as residents follow guidelines, the outbreak could be contained.
There is absolutely the opportunity to stem the spread as long as people are honest, Chen said.
However, if people are not willing to work together, it is not impossible that the situation could deteriorate to the level seen in India, she added.
In addition to people wearing a mask, washing their hands and not touching their face, Lee urged everyone to avoid contact with unfamiliar people over the next two weeks to stem the outbreak’s spread.
Chiu also called on the government to restrict movement in heavily affected areas.
Residents of level 2 and level 3 cities should avoid moving between the two regions, Chiu said, adding that maintaining these measures for one to two weeks would significantly reduce the caseload.
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