The nation might further open up to more arrivals in the next two months, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 48,283 new local COVID-19 cases, down from more than 50,000 in the previous few days.
Taiwan on Wednesday last week introduced a plan to allow up to 25,000 arrivals per week as part of efforts to gradually reopen borders, which includes reducing mandatory quarantines for inbound travelers from seven to three days, followed by four days in “self-initiated epidemic prevention.”
The quota covers inbound Taiwanese arrivals, businesspeople and migrant workers.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
Former vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday said in an interview that many countries started opening their borders a month or more after local outbreaks peaked, so it is possible for Taiwan to do the same in the next two months, as the number of local cases is declining.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan on Wednesday urged the government to fully open the border as soon as possible, to prevent Taiwan from missing out on investment opportunities.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesman, yesterday said that although the number of local cases is decreasing, the government would continue to monitor the spread of the virus, as the COVID-19 situation differs by country.
The CECC has been adjusting its policies based on the situation worldwide and would gradually relax disease prevention measures, he added.
The center is considering easing the weekly arrivals cap and allowing the entry of Taiwanese nonresidents for tourism or to visit relatives, he said.
From Thursday last week to Wednesday, the nation reported 366,628 new cases, down 19 percent from the 451,358 cases reported in the previous seven-day period, a Ministry of Health and Welfare report issued at the Cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday showed.
Community spread is still occurring across Taiwan, but has passed its peak and is gradually coming under control, it said, adding that the number of people developing moderate or severe COVID-19 symptoms is also decreasing.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who chaired the meeting, said that the number of cases has been declining for three consecutive weeks after the four-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday weekend, which indicates that Taiwan is steadily moving beyond the plateau of the outbreak.
Chuang said that the CECC is considering downgrading COVID-19 from a category 5 notifiable communicable disease to category 4, in response to calls from the medical community to do so, adding that it is possible that only people with severe symptoms would be monitored, just as in the case of influenza.
In addition to 48,283 new local COVID-19 cases, the nation also reported 166 deaths related to the disease, the CECC said.
The deaths were aged from their 30s to their 90s. They included 150 people who had chronic illnesses or other severe diseases, and 118 who were unvaccinated, the center said.
It also said that 174 previously reported COVID-19 cases had developed severe symptoms, while 241 people had developed moderate symptoms.
Among the new severe cases was a one-year-old boy who has no chronic illnesses, it said.
The boy, who developed a fever on Saturday, tested positive for COVID-19 the following day, and was taken to a hospital emergency room after experiencing difficulty breathing and developing abnormal breathing sounds, it said.
He was put on oxygen support and diagnosed with croup, an infection that obstructs breathing and is characterized by a bark-like cough, it said, adding that he was still receiving treatment in an intensive care unit.
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