The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) would consider downgrading COVID-19 from a category 5 notifiable communicable disease to category 4 in July, when the nation’s border controls could also be relaxed, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.
COVID-19 was given the category 5 designation in January 2020, allowing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to quarantine suspected cases based on the guidelines for communicable disease prevention.
Taiwan’s latest outbreak might peak at the end of this month or early next month, after which daily caseloads would fall by two-thirds, Chen said, citing outbreaks in other countries.
The center would then consider changing the designation for COVID-19 from category 5 to category 4, said Chen, who heads the CECC.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that a category 4 designation would still require people with COVID-19 to be quarantined and undergo treatment at a designated institution if necessary.
The difference is that a category 4 disease must be reported within 24 hours to one month of diagnosis depending on the illness, while a category 5 disease must be reported within 24 hours, he said.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
Separately, Chen was asked about a report by British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that Taiwan could face “unprecedented death rates by this summer” due to its “little natural immunity and suboptimal vaccination rates among the vulnerable.”
“While the center will take in theoretical predictions for reference, we will continue to pursue the good and avoid the bad by doing our best to keep the pandemic situation under control,” Chen said.
The CECC yesterday reported 44,361 new COVID-19 cases — including 67 imported — and 12 deaths from the disease.
Although it was the second consecutive day that the nation’s daily caseload surpassed 40,000, it was a slight drop from the 46,377 domestic cases reported on Saturday.
Chen said the decline was likely due to fewer people getting tested over weekends.
The deaths reported yesterday involved people aged 60 to 100. Six of them had received no COVID-19 vaccine, two had received a single dose, one received two doses and three received three doses.
The CECC also reported 106 people with moderate symptoms and 12 with severe symptoms.
Of the 288,515 domestic cases recorded in Taiwan from Jan. 1 to Saturday, 606 have been classified as moderate infections and 101 as severe, accounting for 0.21 percent and 0.04 percent of the total respectively. The rest were asymptomatic or mild cases, the CECC said.
New Taipei City yesterday reported the most new COVID-19 cases with 17,948, followed by Taipei with 8,213 and Taoyuan with 5,494.
Taichung reported 2,358 cases, Kaohsiung 2,010, Tainan 1,322, Keelung 1,310, Yilan County 884, Pingtung County 695, Hsinchu County 688, Hualien County 649, Changhua County 536 and Hsinchu City 515.
Yunlin County reported 398 cases, Miaoli County 375, Nantou County 260, Taitung County 224, Chiayi County 205, Chiayi City 111, Penghu County 54, Kinmen County 28 and Lienchiang County 17.
In other developments, the Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday confirmed that the four major convenience store chains in Taiwan — 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life and OK Mart — would start selling rapid test kits again from today.
The prices would be based on market demand, the ministry said, adding that it did not yet have access to details such as the brands and number of tests per kit.
Rapid test kits are available to the public mainly through a government rationing system that was launched on April 28, allowing people with a government-issued ID or National Health Insurance card to buy a five-piece test kit at a controlled price of NT$500.
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