New Taipei City residents aged 65 or younger who contract COVID-19, but are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms can now quarantine at home, the New Taipei City Government said yesterday, as it adopted a new Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) protocol on a trial basis.
The announcement came as the center yesterday reported 439 new domestic cases, the second-highest daily increase this year.
Given the “shockingly high” transmission rate of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, and that most of those infected only have mild or no symptoms, the city is asking people who meet certain conditions to quarantine at home, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) told a news conference.
CECC data showed that 99.6 percent of those infected so far this year had mild or no symptoms.
To prevent the city’s medical system from being overburdened, with the number of cases is expected to rise sharply, people aged 65 or younger, who are not pregnant and not undergoing kidney dialysis, should isolate at home, Hou said.
Seven hospitals in the city — Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital’s Tamsui (淡水) branch, Tzu Chi Hospital, Shuangho Hospital, New Taipei City Municipal Hospital, Tucheng Hospital and Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital — are to provide remote services to those in home quarantine, he said.
“Moving forward, our medical team will conduct telephone interviews with confirmed cases to determine whether to send them to hospital or centralized quarantine, or to advise them to self-isolate at home,” New Taipei City Department of Health Director Chen Jun-chiu (陳潤秋) said.
People quarantining at home for 10 days are required to install the iCare smartphone app, which connects to health-monitoring devices through Bluetooth and sends data to city hospitals, she said.
People in home quarantine must also fill out a health questionnaire three times per day and videoconference with medical staff on their mobile devices, she said, adding that if a person’s health appears to be deteriorating, they would be admitted to a hospital.
The city is also working with the New Taipei City Pharmacists’ Association to remotely prescribe medications, which would be delivered within 24 hours, she said.
Separately, Taiwan has signed a second contract with US drugmaker Pfizer to procure 350,000 courses of its COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid, which are to arrive by the end of June, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, after the government pledged to gradually reopen the nation’s borders.
The second contract also stipulates that Taiwan has the option to buy another 350,000 courses if necessary, said Chen, who heads the CECC.
The remaining courses of Paxlovid, which Taiwan purchased in its first contract, are to be delivered in batches in the coming two weeks, he said.
Taiwan signed a deal with Pfizer in January for 20,000 courses of Paxlovid, of which 4,800 courses have arrived.
A total of 136 courses have been used so far, Chen said.
The CECC has previously said that Paxlovid can be prescribed to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 within five days of the onset of symptoms for adults and children aged 12 and older with a minimum weight of 40kg, if they are assessed to be at high risk of developing a severe illness.
Additional reporting by CNA and Reuters
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the