The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 167 cases of domestic COVID-19 infection and 18 deaths.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the local cases were 85 males and 82 females, from younger than five to older than 90, who began experiencing symptoms between June 1 and Tuesday.
New Taipei City had the highest number of cases at 65, followed by Taipei with 50 cases, Miaoli County with 21, Taoyuan with 14, Hualien County with eight, Hsinchu County with five, Keelung with two, and Taichung and Kaohsiung with one each.
In the 52 cases reported outside of Taipei and New Taipei City, the infection sources of 48 cases have been identified, while four remain unclear, Chen said at the CECC’s daily news briefing.
The 18 deaths are nine men and nine women who were in their 30s to 90s and had underlying health conditions, CECC data showed.
“The local COVID-19 situation is trending downward,” Chen said.
While the situation is stabilizing in Taipei and New Taipei City, it is important to quickly identify and isolate close contacts of infected people as soon as possible through precision contact tracing, he said.
Expanded testing is also necessary to find asymptomatic carriers, he said, urging people identified as close contacts of confirmed cases to cooperate and undergo COVID-19 testing to protect themselves, their family and the community.
Asked about the possibility of lowering the nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert to level 2, or even “level 2.5” as some public health experts have suggested, to revive parts of the economy, Chen said that the CECC “humbly listens to all advice,” but the COVID-19 situation is “just stabilizing, not slowing down” and case counts could quickly spike if caution is not observed.
Whether to loosen restrictions must be planned carefully, as reopening parts of the economy might trigger a chain reaction and break the line of defense against COVID-19, he added.
“The coronavirus knows no national borders, let alone county borders,” Chen said. “The virus could be anywhere, and no one wants to become infected, or wants to transmit the virus to other people, so everyone on this island shares the same fate and we should all come together to fight it.”
Asked if Taiwan has a lower cycle threshold (CT) value standard for diagnosing COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that this is a common misconception.
Taiwan does not use a CT value of 35 or higher as the only standard to diagnose someone with COVID-19, as those whose CT values reach 38 or even 41 are also considered to be infected, he said.
The standard for discharging COVID-19 patients from hospitals or centralized quarantine facilities was recently revised to a CT value of 30 or higher, as studies show that they are hardly contagious, and this would give hospitals and quarantine facilities more room for patients who are seriously ill with the virus, he said.
Patients with a CT value of 30 or higher who are released from isolation may still be moved to a general hospital room, depending on their doctor’s advice, he added.
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