The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis.
Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chen added.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center via CNA
No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan yesterday, leaving the nation’s total confirmed cases at 441, including seven deaths, while 408 patients have been released from isolation after treatment, center data showed.
Of the 350 imported cases, 91 came from the US, 72 from the UK, 25 from France, 20 from Spain and 17 from Turkey, CECC advisory specialist panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said.
He added that 69.4 percent of the confirmed cases exhibited only minor symptoms, while 22.4 percent developed pneumonia and 8.2 percent developed serious pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Among those treated with invasive methods, 24 patients were placed on respirators, but seven of them died, including three of the seven patients placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, he added.
Four patients tested positive after testing negative three times, but eight people with whom they came into contact did not exhibit symptoms or test positive after 14 days of isolation, Chang said.
Similar findings were reported in South Korea, where patients were released after testing negative twice, he said.
As the positive response after three negative tests was weak, the center deemed it unnecessary to further isolate the contacts who tested positive after three negative tests, he added.
Prior to the news briefing, Chen represented local governments in receiving automated nucleic acid testing systems donated by GeneReach Biotechnology Corp at a ceremony in Penghu County.
The systems — which were donated to outlying Penghu, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties, as well as Taitung County’s Lanyu (蘭嶼) and Green Island townships — can be operated by a single medical worker and provide a result in 85 minutes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said.
The systems would allow local governments to isolate suspected cases earlier, as they would not have to wait for test results from Taiwan proper, Chen said, adding that each region would receive one system.
As GeneReach is the first local firm to produce a small-scale polymerase chain reaction testing device, diplomatic and defense agencies have also procured some for their use, he added.
The CECC also introduced a chatbot powered by Google Assistant that features Chinese and English-language interfaces, following the launch two weeks ago of a similar bot on Facebook Messenger that only had a Chinese-language version.
Designed for foreigners in Taiwan, the new digital assistant provides users with instant information about the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said, but added that its speech recognition could be imprecise.
Additional reporting by CNA
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