The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 17 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, 10 imported cases and six deaths, while also announcing guidelines for conditionally reopening community daycare centers for elderly people and those with disabilities.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 17 local cases was the lowest daily tally since a local outbreak started in May.
Nine who contracted the virus locally tested positive during isolation or upon completing isolation, he said.
“This means that fewer cases have unclear infection sources, which is a good sign,” he added.
The majority of cases were reported in Taipei, with 10, followed by Taoyuan with three, and New Taipei City and Taichung with two each, Chen said.
While the number of arrivals in Taiwan has not significantly increased, more imported cases have been detected, he said, adding that the reason might be that new variants of SARS-CoV-2 are spreading in many countries.
The center would continue to closely monitor the situation, Chen added.
Asked whether the infected arrivals had contracted new variants, Chen said that as genome sequencing takes time, the center would publicize its findings periodically.
The center typically conducts genome sequencing on cases that are imported, are part of peculiar clusters or have unknown infections sources, as well as on a random sampling of cases.
The 10 imported cases were arrivals from Indonesia, Japan, Mauritania, Myanmar and the UK, CECC data showed.
The six deaths were five men and a woman aged 50 to 90 who had underlying conditions and began to experience symptoms between May 15 and Monday, the data showed.
Asked whether Taiwan would soon return to zero daily cases, Chen said that the likelihood of that was quite low after experiencing community spread.
Communities could always have unknown asymptomatic carriers, so the center “will not set a goal of achieving zero cases,” he added.
Meanwhile, disease prevention guidelines have been established for social welfare facilities, to allow them to conditionally resume services, Chen said.
The guidelines cover community daycare facilities, small multifunctional care facilities, daycare services at residential long-term care facilities for seniors and people with disabilities, and outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation and early intervention facilities, Social and Family Affairs Director-General Chu Chien-fang (祝健芳) said.
The conditions for resuming services include having more than 80 percent of facility staff vaccinated against COVID-19, she said, adding that the center recommends that, at a minimum, those receiving care wait 14 days after getting their first vaccine dose before returning to the facilities.
Workers or those receiving care who got their first dose less than 14 days before returning must provide a negative rapid screening test result no more than three days old, and provide a negative result each week for as long as a level 3 COVID-19 alert is in effect, she added.
In addition to the preventive measures, the facilities must activate response measures as soon as a COVID-19 case is suspected or confirmed — for example, suspected cases must be reported within 24 hours, they must be isolated in a separate space and they must not go home on public transportation, Chu said.
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