Taiwan is not at high risk of community infections, despite the emergence of its first domestic case of COVID-19 in eight months and a virus variant from the UK last month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
On New Year’s Eve, the center reported two new imported cases of COVID-19.
Case No. 799 is a Briton in his 70s who entered Taiwan on Dec. 18 to visit relatives, the center said.
He began to show symptoms while in home quarantine, but had not come into close contact with anyone, it added.
Case No. 800 is an Indian in his 20s who entered Taiwan on Dec. 15 for business, the center said, adding that he tested positive for COVID-19 upon completing the quarantine, but contact tracing was not needed.
Among 21 imported cases from the UK being checked for the new variant, cases No. 791 and No. 792 were found to have the new variant, which is believed to be 70 percent more transmissible, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesperson.
Prior to yesterday’s briefing at the center, 13 cities and counties had announced that they would encourage New Year’s Eve revelers to celebrate at home by organizing livestreaming concerts, sunrises and flag raisings, or by postponing events.
People were still being invited to attend New Year’s Eve concerts in Taipei, as well as Hsinchu, Penghu, Taitung, Yunlin, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that the city had reduced the audience in the Taipei City Hall Plaza to 40,000 from 80,000.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“Taiwan has yet to show any evidence of community infection, and we should not let irrational fear guide how we make decisions on such matters,” he said.
Asked whether such concerts might compromise the government’s disease prevention efforts, Chuang said that the people who had close contact with case No. 771 — the first locally transmitted case since April 12 — all tested negative.
The two people infected with the variant have not entered local communities: one was hospitalized upon arrival and the other had symptoms in home quarantine, he added.
“People might be concerned that these cases could lead to community infections, but the evidence so far shows that the risk of people contracting COVID-19 in the community remains very low,” Chuang said.
Before holding New Year’s Eve events as planned, local government officials were told to consider whether they had adequate disease prevention measures in place, including providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant, disinfecting public restrooms frequently, not selling food or beverages, registering participants’ real names and ensuring that attendees carry cellphones.
As many cities and counties decided to livestream New Year’s Eve concerts, the Taiwan Railways Administration said that it cut additional trains scheduled for yesterday from 36 to 24.
The agency said that it focused on transporting 40,000 people to A-mei’s (阿妹) New Year’s Eve concert in Taitung.
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