The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) would ease COVID-19 restrictions depending on the vaccination rate and other factors, but lowering the level 2 COVID-19 alert would require more careful consideration, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday.
In its decision of when to lower the alert, the center would take into account Taiwan’s first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate, with the aim to reach 60 percent, people’s compliance with disease prevention measures and the general COVID-19 situation in the nation, Chen told the CECC’s daily news conference.
The center would take “a more rigorous approach” when making that decision, he said.
Photo: Geroge Tsorng, Taipei Times
The nationwide COVID-19 alert was on July 27 lowered from level 3 to level 2 and has been extended four times. It is to remain in place until at least Oct. 4.
Chen’s comment came in response to Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), who had suggested lowering the alert, citing low case numbers in the past few weeks.
Under the level 2 alert, people must wear masks when outside their residence, crowd sizes at indoor and outdoor gatherings are capped at 300 and 800 respectively, and certain businesses, including certain bars, clubs and KTV parlors, are not allowed to operate.
The CECC reported one domestic infection and seven imported cases, bringing the nation’s case count to 16,176.
Of the total, 14,415 are domestic infections reported since May 15, when Taiwan first recorded more than 100 COVID-19 cases in a single day.
Yesterday’s sole domestic case was a New Taipei City woman in her 20s, CECC data showed.
She works as an engineer at Foxconn Interconnect Technology Co, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, the center said.
She initially tested negative on Sept. 7, when she sought medical attention for a fever, but tested positive in a rapid test required at work on Wednesday, as well as later in a rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at a hospital, the CECC said.
To confirm the positive result, she was given a traditional PCR test, and the result was negative, the center added.
However, as further testing showed that she had two types of COVID-19 antigens in her blood, the CECC decided to confirm the case, it said.
On Thursday, Foxconn said that she and six close contacts had been requested to quarantine.
In a separate news conference yesterday, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that the woman’s second PCR test showed a cycle threshold (CT) value of 34, which is not considered infectious.
A higher CT value indicates a lower viral load, suggesting that she did not contract the virus recently.
The New Taipei City Government is investigating her source of infection, Hou said, adding that all her family members and close contacts tested negative.
Meanwhile, CECC data showed that 87,708 young Taiwanese on Thursday received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, 8,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered to high-school students, the data showed.
As of yesterday, 50.8 percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since the nation’s vaccination program began on March 22, CECC data showed.
However, only 1,943,932 people, or 8.3 percent of the population, had received the two doses that are required to be considered fully vaccinated, the data showed.
With Taiwan set to begin administering the BioNTech vaccine to adults today, Chen encouraged those who have not received their first dose to register their intention to get vaccinated on the government’s online registration platform.
Upcoming shipments of the AstraZenenca and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines would be used for second-dose vaccinations of those who had their first shot in July, he added.
In other developments, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last night issued a statement expressing its gratitude to Slovakia for its donation of 160,000 doses of AstraZeneca. The shipment is slated to depart for Taiwan today, it said.
In a tweet on its official Twitter account, it added: "The generous gesture is another example of the virtuous HealthForAll circle. It also shows the strength of friendship and exchanges between our freedom and democracy-loving countries."
The country is able to donate more doses than originally planned through the joint effort of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy, said Slovak Deputy Minister of Economy Karol Galek yesterday.
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