The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 219 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 219 local infections — 117 male and 102 female — were aged from under five to over 100 years old, and they began having symptoms between May 22 and Monday.
New Taipei City reported 123 cases, followed by Taipei with 54, Miaoli County with 16, Taoyuan with 13, Keelung with eight, Changhua County with two, and one each in Hsinchu City, Taichung and Tainan.
The 22 deaths were 15 men and seven women, who were aged between 30 and over 100.
The numbers of confirmed cases yesterday and on Monday were about the same, fewer than in the preceding weeks, and the positivity rate at rapid screening stations also declined in the two days, which are good signs, Chen said.
“However, we cannot afford to let our guard down now,” he said, adding that the center strongly urges people to stay home and avoid traveling during the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is deputy head of the center, said the total number of bookings on the high-speed rail between Friday and Monday next week has fallen to fewer than 50,000 and to about 30,000 for Taiwan Railways Administration trains.
Providing an update on the cluster infections at electronic companies in Miaoli County, Chen Shih-chung said that 243 cases of COVID-19 infection had been confirmed at three companies, including 210 cases — 170 migrant workers and 40 Taiwanese — at King Yuan Electronics Co (京元電子), as of Monday evening.
The company has resumed operations with reduced capacity after all the migrant workers were placed in isolation.
About 5,000 Taiwanese employees are to be tested again on Friday and Saturday, he said.
About 960 foreign employees at King Yuan Electronics with higher infection risk have been isolated at centralized quarantine facilities, while another 1,027 foreign employees have been isolated in single-room dormitories. They are to receive a second test today, he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the center’s medical response division, said that test positivity rates on Monday dropped to about 1 percent in New Taipei City and about 2.55 percent in Taipei, much improved from last month, but it indicates that there are still infected individuals in local communities who need to be found.
He said the risk of passing on an infection within households was between 40 and 45 percent in Taipei and New Taipei City last week, so a main goal this week is to rapidly remove infected individuals from their homes, and to quickly identify and isolate their close contacts.
Asked about reports that a woman, whose family of five have all been infected, had claimed that her mother required intubation and had been treated in an intensive care unit for more than a week, but still had not received the broad-spectrum antiviral medication remdesivir, specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) showed a table of medication recommended for COVID-19 patients under different conditions and said that remdesivir is only recommended for patients who are hospitalized and on oxygen support.
Remdesivir is no longer recommended for intubated patients or those relying on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, as studies have suggested that it might even increase the mortality rate of patients under such conditions, he said.
It is a misconception to think that remdesivir is the only life-saving medicine available to COVID-19 patients, as corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, and monoclonal antibodies have also reduced the mortality rate in patients, and these types of drugs are also available, he added.
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