The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that its toll-free 1922 hotline had received more than 2.02 million calls in the past year, contributing greatly to conveying correct information about COVID-19.
The 1922 hotline was established after the SARS outbreak in 2003 for the Centers for Disease Control to answer public inquiries about diseases, Chunghwa Telecom Co assistant vice president Chuang Wen-ming (莊文明) said at a CECC news conference yesterday.
The more that 2.02 million calls were received from the outbreak of COVID-19 early last year to the end of last month, about 30 times the number of calls received in the same time period in 2019, he said.
Photo courtesy of the CECC
About 84,000 callers with more complicated questions were transferred to the relevant departments, he added.
There were six peak periods when the number of calls surged, Chuang said, adding that the most calls, 47,000, were received on April 20 last year, when a cluster of COVID-19 infections was reported on a navy ship.
Additional staff had to be immediately dispatched to support the customer service center during these periods, but the hotline still achieved an average response rate of 85.4 percent in the past year, higher than the 80 percent goal that the CECC had set, he said.
The three most common types of questions asked were about “isolation, leave of absence and self-health management,” followed by “home quarantine regulations” and “home quarantine settlement problems,” Chuang said, adding that more than 16,000 calls, or about 1.1 percent, were answered in English.
For inquiries about COVID-19, people can call 1922 when in Taiwan or +886-800-001-922 when in other countries, or e-mail their question to firstname.lastname@example.org, the CECC said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the ministry’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Monday concluded that there should be at least eight weeks between receiving the first and second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued emergency use authorization for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Taiwan, and required that the two doses be given four to 12 weeks apart, Chen said.
However, the committee extended the recommended minimum interval between the two doses to at least eight weeks, based on two references, he said.
Data released by Oxford researchers showed that the vaccine was 76 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection for three months after a single dose, and its efficacy rose to 82.4 percent when there was at least a 12-week interval before the second dose, Chen said.
The WHO also issued interim recommendations for use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Feb. 11, which said the two doses should be given eight to 12 weeks apart, he said.
No new COVID-19 cases were reported in Taiwan for the third consecutive day yesterday, the CECC added.
Separately, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that from Tuesday next week, people can eat and drink on Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) trains again.
A ban on eating and drinking on railways was imposed on Feb. 1 after a cluster inflection was reported at Taoyuan General Hospital.
The ministry said that railway passengers would be allowed to temporarily take off their masks when eating and drinking, provided that they observe social-distancing guidelines and take disease-prevention measures.
The main hall of the Taipei Railway Station and lobbies at other railway stations would also be opened again for people to lease for events, it said.
THSRC would also provide non-reserved cabins again, and the TRA would cancel the limit on standing tickets, it added.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
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