Changes in daily COVID-19 caseloads over the next couple of weeks would affect the timing of the border being reopened, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it reported 46,673 new local and 229 imported cases, as well as 39 deaths.
The CECC had previously predicted that a wave of infections fueled by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 would peak yesterday.
Yesterday’s caseload was 6 percent lower than Wednesday last week and the decline was evident across the nation, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), head of the CECC’s disease surveillance division.
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC, said the caseloads reported yesterday and on Tuesday were lower from their respective week-earlier data.
It is likely that the latest COVID-19 wave peaked on Wednesday last week, but the center would observe the trend for a few more days to be on the safe side, Wang said.
Asked whether border controls and quarantine for arrivals could be lifted earlier than planned as daily caseloads have been falling, Wang said: “We have said that border reopening would happen after the BA.5 surge peaks and cases start to decline.”
“Judging from the current situation, it is possible that the timing of reopening can be moved forward,” he said.
The CECC has drafted plans to reopen the border and they are being discussed by government agencies, which need to assess their feasibility and the time they need to prepare, Wang said.
The CECC would announce the policies before implementing them, he said.
The next one to two weeks is a key observation period for the center to determine when reopening plans can be implemented, he said, adding that they are expected to take effect next month.
Separately, Wang said that government-funded weekly COVID-19 tests at long-term care facilities would be extended until Oct. 31, as testing positivity rates have remained relatively low since the policy took effect.
Under the policy, facility residents are tested twice a week, while workers are tested once a week.
In related news, a batch of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine comprising 504,000 doses would arrive in Taiwan today, Wang said.
The doses would be offered to people aged 12 or older as their primary series or booster shots, he said, adding that the doses would be dispatched to local governments on Friday next week.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that among the 39 deaths confirmed yesterday, the youngest was a three-year-old boy who developed symptoms and tested positive on Friday last week.
The boy was rushed to a hospital after his parents found him unresponsive the next day, Lo said.
He died due to respiratory failure, upper respiratory infection and COVID-19, Lo said.
Six cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) were also confirmed yesterday, including a 10-year-old boy and five other children aged one to five, Lo added.
One of them is a four-year-old girl who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 28, he said.
She developed a fever and diarrhea on Sept. 6 and was taken to an emergency room on Sept. 9, where she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, strawberry tongue (a swollen and bumpy tongue), and dried and cracked lips, and diagnosed with MIS-C, he said.
The onset of MIS-C symptoms occurred 101 days after the girl was diagnosed with COVID-19, which is the longest such interval reported so far, he added.
A five-year-old boy was confirmed to have serious MIS-C, Lo said.
He tested positive on July 20 and developed a fever, conjunctivitis, rashes and abdominal pain on Aug. 29, Lo said, adding that the boy was hospitalized for suspected MIS-C on Sept. 5.
The boy was later admitted to an intensive care unit after he was found to have an enlarged coronary artery, weakened heart contractions, low heart pressure and cardiogenic shock, Lo said, adding that the boy recovered after treatment and was discharged from hospital on Saturday.
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