The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 287 new local COVID-19 infections, 170 backlogged local cases and six deaths.
Of the local infections, 138 are male and 149 are female, and the onset of symptoms or testing dates ranged from May 6 to Saturday, it said.
Most of the cases live in Taipei and New Taipei City: 142 in New Taipei City, including 32 in Banciao District (板橋), and 77 cases in Taipei, including 38 in Wanhua District (萬華), the center said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Twenty-three cases are from Taoyuan, eight each from Pingtung and Nantou counties, and the remainder are from 11 other municipalities, including Chiayi County and Chiayi City, which each had their first confirmed cases, it said.
Of the 170 backlogged cases, 84 are male and 86 are female, with the onset of symptoms or testing dates ranging from April 25 to Saturday, the CECC said.
Of those, 88 live in Taipei, including 48 in Wanhua, 73 live in New Taipei City, including 17 in Banciao, six live in Changhua County, and one each in Hsinchu City and Yilan and Yunlin counties, it said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Among the 457 cases reported yesterday, 161 had recently visited Wanhua, 160 are linked to previously reported clusters or have a clear infection source, 70 have an unclear connection to previous cases and 66 are being investigated, CECC data showed.
The dead are five men and one woman, aged between 50 and 90 years old, the center said.
They developed symptoms from May 10 to Thursday, were diagnosed with COVID-19 from May 17 to Saturday, and they died on Thursday or Friday, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
Five of them had a chronic illness, he added.
Due to a spike in demand for COVID-19 testing over the past week, the period between conducting a test and confirming an infection has surpassed two days, leading to tens of thousands of pending test results.
The center on Saturday for the first time reported 400 backlogged local cases, sparking debate on whether the practice is appropriate.
Chen said that the center has simplified the reporting procedure by reducing the 22 required items to only eight for each case.
Yesterday, he said that the center would also subsidize laboratories up to NT$5 million (US$178,955) for purchases of a high-throughput real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instrument to speed up testing.
Test recipients can check their PCR test results by using the “My Health Bank” (健康存摺) function in the National Health Insurance Administration’s (NHIA) mobile app (全民健保行動快易通), he said.
NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) said a PCR test can take up to three days to produce results, and that the new service would enable hospitals and testing stations to upload the test results to the NHI MediCloud system.
Test recipients can check results as soon as they come out, rather than waiting to be informed through a telephone call, he said.
Chen said that although rapid testing is conducted only in some testing stations in the six special municipalities, mostly in Taipei and New Taipei City, the test positivity rates in the past week peaked at 5.8 percent on May 15, dropping to 2.1 percent on Wednesday, before rebounding to 3.4 percent yesterday.
The upcoming week is an important observation period for deciding whether the COVID-19 warning should remain at level 3, Chen said.
In addition to positivity rates, daily confirmed cases and distribution of cases, there are other indicators to be considered, he said.
Chen also said that the standards for home quarantine and home isolation have been relaxed to allow “one person per room,” instead of “one person per household,” to free up rooms at enhanced quarantine hotels and centralized quarantine facilities for confirmed cases with mild symptoms.
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