The Taipei City Government yesterday conducted a simulation for a level 4 lockdown, which would close all nonessential businesses and bar entrance into the city.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Taiwan has surpassed that of SARS in a scene unfathomable at this time last year, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said.
There is evidence that the situation has stabilized over the past three days, as ambulances are no longer being turned away from hospitals due to a lack of beds, he said.
However, if the situation continues, “quantitative changes would create qualitative ones,” Ko said, asking what would happen if the city must lock down for months or if cases surge once more.
Therefore, the city must “plan for the worst to be best prepared,” he added.
In the simulation, participants led by Ko practiced mobilizing the city government to manage all levels of response with the goal of identifying problematic areas.
The first step would be commanding the Taipei Epidemic Command Center to remain open around the clock, while each administrative district would be instructed to set up disaster response centers, the city government said.
The city would also coordinate closely with the governments of Keelung, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, it said.
All schools and offices would be closed, and no one would be allowed to go outside except to buy food or seek medical treatment, or to perform other necessary or official duties, it added.
In addition, roadblocks would be erected to restrict movement between regions, the city said.
Seventy-one control points would be set up on access roads and highway ramps to restrict the flow of private vehicles into the city, while trains would not stop at stations within Taipei, it said.
All mass transit services would only operate within city limits, meaning that MRT service between Taipei and New Taipei City would be suspended, the city government said.
The YouBike service would also be suspended, it added.
Police would be dispatched for crowd control at markets, which would be instructed to restrict sales of certain items if supply becomes limited, it said.
About 21,000 essential businesses would be allowed to operate, including restaurants, bakeries, fruit and vegetable vendors, gas stations and supermarkets, it said.
Traditional markets would operate with limited hours, it added.
As for medical supplies, the city said it would seek assistance from the Ministry of Health and Welfare to establish backup hospitals and evaluate the potential of converting regional hospitals into specialized COVID-19 facilities.
It would also aim to provide 1,400 quarantine hotel rooms, it said.
If fatalities surpass the city’s daily cremation capacity of 224 bodies, temporary morgues could be established to store up to 200 bodies, it added.
Finally, the Taipei City Government said it would request assistance from the 6th Army Command 33rd Chemical Corps to sanitize the city, while 1,270 troops from the military’s disaster relief force could be deployed initially.
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