ACN: Taiwan reports 286 new domestic COVID-19 cases
TAIPEI: Taiwan reported 286 new domestic COVID-19 cases on Thursday (May 20), a slight increase from the previous day.
Having been held up as an example of how to successfully stop the virus in its tracks, Taiwan has over the past two weeks reported a spiralling number of infections in the community, with 1,572 cases.
There was also one new death, an elderly woman who lived on her own and had underlying health conditions, bringing the death total toll since the pandemic began to 15.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that the percentage of confirmed cases was falling among people being tested in the capital, Taipei, and neighbouring New Taipei City, where the worst of the outbreak has been concentrated.
“At present, it seems like the trend is not deteriorating sharply,” he told a news briefing.
The latest daily tally was up from the 267 infections reported on Wednesday, when authorities raised Taiwan’s coronavirus alert level to the second-highest.
The Level 3 alert was imposed islandwide, with entertainment venues, libraries, sports facilities and community centres closed. Taipei and the surrounding New Taipei had already been on the higher alert level.
People are required to wear masks all the time when going out. Indoor gatherings of more than five and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
A Level 4 alert would involve a lockdown with people only allowed to go out to buy necessities or for medical treatment, all gatherings banned and schools shut down.
Chen on Wednesday said that was not being considered, but the mayor of New Taipei said his city was preparing for Level 4 restrictions and urged residents to do the same.
The official Central News Agency said Taiwan’s parliament would be suspended for a week starting from Saturday, though some committee sessions have already been cancelled.
While ministers say the medical system overall is coping well with the rise in infections, strains are starting to show in Taipei in particular, which is appealing for retired medical staff to step forward and help.
In one piece of good news, more than 400,000 additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Wednesday via the COVAX sharing initiative, adding to the 300,000 it has already received but are rapidly running out.
Taiwan has ordered more than 20 million vaccine doses, a mixture of Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca Plc shots as well as domestically-developed vaccines that could start being given from July.
Possibly signalling the Moderna shots could be arriving soon, Chen said the company had sent “kits” over so they could start making preparations.
Taiwan has only received AstraZeneca shots so far, with less than 1% of its more than 23 million people vaccinated, after being caught up in global supply problems.