The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced that more healthcare workers who care for COVID-19 patients would be eligible for subsidies and rewards, and that it would authorize the development of medical supplies for testing and treating the disease.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said that frontline healthcare workers in emergency rooms (ERs) have been working hard to combat COVID-19, but the first round of subsidies and rewards was not comprehensive enough, so the criteria have been extended to include more hospital staff.
Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said that the Executive Yuan on Friday passed the additional budget and the department has modified the guidelines for the rewards program.
Photo provided by Taipei City Hospital
He said that 200 designated emergency hospitals with enhanced preparedness set up fever screening stations before the Lunar New Year holiday, played an important role in testing and screening suspected cases, and steadily handled an average of about 18,000 emergency cases per day while fighting COVID-19.
Therefore, frontline healthcare workers in ERs with negative pressure isolation wards or single wards who treated suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 would be included in the program, Shih said.
Physicians could receive NT$10,000 (US$334.43) per day, with a maximum of two physicians applying per day if there was a shift in duty, he said, adding that nurses could receive NT$10,000 per eight-hour shift, with an extra NT$5,000 for overtime exceeding four hours.
The modified guidelines include special COVID-19 prevention rewards for all workers in the ERs of designated hospitals: NT$1.2 million per month for advanced hospitals and medical centers, NT$900,000 per month for intermediate hospitals and NT$300,000 per month for general hospitals, Shih said.
The workers include medical professionals, radiology technicians, social workers, administration staff, ambulance technicians and custodians, he said, adding that the rewards are retroactive to January.
An additional reward would also be shared between frontline medical professionals who have taken care of hospitalized COVID-19 cases: NT$3,000 per day for those who treated infected patients with pneumonia and NT$10,000 per day for those who treated infected patients on ventilators, Shih said.
Medical facilities with a biosafety level 2 laboratory designated for COVID-19 testing could receive up to NT$5 million for purchasing medical equipment to analyze SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, he added.
The hospitals should apply for rewards for January through March by May 31, and for April through June by July 10, the CECC said.
In other news, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said that to meet demand for medical resources in combating COVID-19, it has simplified the review process and waived the Good Manufacturing Practices applications, instead only requiring quality and safety testing for review to help products get to market sooner.
Between Feb. 7 and Thursday, the FDA has approved more than 31 medical supply items for fighting COVID-19, including masks, protective clothing, ear thermometers and test kits, she said.
The FDA also published three reference documents for developers of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test kits, rapid test kits and ventilators on its official Web site.
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