The requirement to scan a QR code for contact tracing at public and business venues has been canceled, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday, as it reported 8,822 local COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
Other domestic COVID-19 restrictions, including mask wearing, would remain the same throughout next month, it added.
The system of scanning a contact registration QR code was launched on May 19 last year to assist local governments in identifying close contacts of confirmed cases.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the system would be aborted, as data from the system are no longer used for contact tracing, so scanning QR codes would be a meaningless inconvenience.
The center on Monday announced that it was simplifying its contact tracing efforts and only identifying “key close contacts” — people living in the same household, classmates or coworkers, who have had close contact with the case in the past two days — and placing them under home isolation.
The CECC encouraged people to download the Taiwan Social Distancing (台灣社交距離) app on their smartphone, so that they can be informed if they have come into close contact with a confirmed case.
As the app becomes more effective if more people download and use it, the center earlier this month said it hoped to reach at least 12 million users.
Chen yesterday said that it has nearly 8.2 million users so far.
Chen yesterday encouraged people to use the app and take a rapid test after being informed of exposure to a confirmed case.
Users do not need to get tested as soon as they are notified of exposure to a case, as the virus might not be detected immediately, he added.
As of Tuesday, 42,844 local infections were reported so far this year, including five deaths, Chen said, adding that 120 were classified as moderate infections and 12 as severe, accounting for 0.28 percent and 0.03 percent of the total respectively.
Of the 8,822 local infections reported yesterday, 14 new moderate cases and three severe cases were confirmed, including a death, Chen said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that the two severe cases were a man in his 80s and a teenager, both of whom have chronic neurological disorders.
They have had pneumonia and experienced respiratory distress after contracting COVID-19, he said.
The elderly man has received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but the teenager did not get vaccinated, he said,
The local death was a man in his 70s, who was hospitalized for cancer and had pneumonia after he contracted COVID-19, Lo said, adding that his condition worsened and he died of metastatic cancer, multiple organ failure and a COVID-19 infection.
Another COVID-19-associated death confirmed yesterday was an imported case — a man in his 50s, who had cancer and heart disease, Lo said.
He tested negative upon arrival on April 16, but began experiencing symptoms the following day, he said.
On April 17, the man received a test, but refused to be examined further at a hospital, and he returned home for isolation, but was found unconscious by his family members the next day and died of cardiopulmonary failure and a COVID-19 infection, Lo said.
The center’s estimation is that there could be 13,000 to 19,000 cases per day by the end of the month, Chen said.
At a minimum, cases are expected to peak at 45,000 per day, while the maximum estimate is about 100,000 cases per day, he said.
Separately, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was asked to elaborate, after he mentioned a potential “soft lockdown” in the city if confirmed cases in Taipei reach more than 500,000 on May 18.
A “soft lockdown” would be like the measures taken during the level 3 COVID-19 alert last year, Ko said.
It would include refraining from dining in, suspending classes and encouraging remote work, Ko said, adding that people should take action on their own without the government having to enforce tough measures.
Additional reporting by Cheng Ming-hsiang and CNA
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