The central government should explain its COVID-19 policies and standard procedures so that local governments can execute them properly, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said yesterday.
The daily local COVID-19 case count has been above 100 for three consecutive days since Friday, when Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced the “new Taiwan mode” for fighting COVID-19.
The central government should strike a balance between disease prevention and economic growth, Su said.
Ko on Saturday said Taiwan can learn from the experiences of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, but added that Hong Kong’s attempt to “live with the virus” while using “zero COVID-19” methods has proven seriously harmful.
The central government should clearly explain its policy and tell the public how many people it expects to become infected, as well as other negative effects, so that people can prepare for the development, Ko said.
Hou said that as part of the government’s goal to reopen the borders and maintain economic growth, mandatory quarantines have been shortened to 10 days, which might have led to undetected cases entering local communities.
The central government should say whether the goal is living with the virus or zero COVID-19, so that the local governments can better execute the plan, Hou said.
The “new Taiwan mode” is a term without tangible content, Ko said yesterday.
Echoing Hou, the Taipei mayor said: “The core of politics is execution, so the government should clearly explain whether it wants living with the virus or zero COVID-19, because giving an order without a standard operation procedure is empty talk.”
Hou yesterday said that the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 spreads faster than previous variants, but most cases are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, so the New Taipei City Government is continuing to expand its contact tracing and testing efforts.
It focuses on finding undetected cases and blocking chains of transmission, Hou said.
Reducing the mandatory quarantine time might have led to more undetected cases in local communities, and the increasing number of migrant workers arriving also led to higher numbers of imported cases, he said.
Higher daily case counts are an inevitable burden for reopening, but all-out efforts must be made to fight COVID-19, he said.
Su yesterday said that although the new policy would certainly lead to an increase in cases, the government expects that up to 99.7 percent of them would be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
People should not worry about the gradual reopening of the borders, Su said.
People should wear a mask, frequently wash their hands and get vaccinated against COVID-19, he said, adding that as long as the nation maintains sufficient healthcare capacity, people do not have to worry about higher case counts.
Additional reporting by Hung Chen-hung
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