The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported eight locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the first time the daily case count fell to a single digit since a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert was issued on May 19.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said if the COVID-19 situation continues to improve, the alert is likely to be lowered to level 2 after July 26.
Four of the eight local cases tested positive during isolation or upon ending isolation, Chen said, adding that 86.3 percent of the 14,148 confirmed cases reported since May 11 have been released from isolation.
Of the new cases, five were reported in New Taipei City, while Taipei, Taoyuan and Taichung reported one case each, Chen said.
“The daily [local] case count has dropped to a single digit, which is good news,” he said. “The lower the case count, the more accurately and comprehensively we can conduct contact tracing.”
Identifying the close contacts of confirmed cases and following up on their condition are also important in breaking transmission chains and bringing the COVID-19 outbreak under control, he said.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
“We hope everyone can continue to keep up their efforts so that the level 3 alert can be lowered after July 26,” he said. “While keeping COVID-19 under control is still the most important task, judging from the current situation, it seems likely that the alert could be lowered.”
Chen said 280,006 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Friday, marking the highest number of doses administered in a day.
As of Friday, the vaccination coverage rate had reached 20.4 percent and 20.93 doses had been administered per 100 people, he said.
According to the CECC’s observation of vaccination coverage rates in other countries, the positive effects of vaccination would start to appear after the rate exceeds 20 percent, disease prevention effects would start after 40 percent and herd immunity would be achieved after 60 percent, he said.
“Achieving a vaccination coverage rate of 20 percent is the first milestone,” Chen said. “We have observed the possibility of bringing COVID-19 under control today, as the confirmed case count dropped to a single digit and the vaccination coverage exceeded 20 percent, so we need to continue working on improving.”
While people are still required to wear a mask at all times when leaving their homes, two exceptions would be allowed, Chen said.
People can remove their masks to eat outdoors given that there is good ventilation and if they observe social distancing, and family members who live together can eat inside private vehicles, he said.
However, those who do not live together would have to take turns eating inside a private vehicle, he added.
People who work outdoors are also allowed to eat outdoors as long as they follow disease prevention measures, Chen said.
Asked about the new measures, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said family members who live together can eat in the same private vehicle, but picnicking or eating while walking is still banned in the city.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said the most successful aspect of Taiwan’s disease prevention measures is not having to impose extremely harsh regulations, unlike China deploying the military to Wuhan to lock the city down.
The city government urges family members who live together to eat meals separately to avoid household transmission, which is as high as 40 percent in Taipei, and follow the CECC’s guidelines, Ko said.
The CECC yesterday reported four imported cases: travelers from the United Arab Emirates, the US, Nigeria and Indonesia.
It also reported that a COVID-19 patient in his 60s had died.
The man had underlying health conditions, it said.
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