15 national cases announced by CECC in decline from past days, although fewer tests over weekend

by Brian Hioe

Pphoto Credit: public domain

15 DOMESTIC CASES, 36 imported cases and zero deaths were reported by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) today. Eight cases were in Kaohsiung, four cases in Yilan and three cases in Taoyuan.

23 of the imported cases were found on arrival, while thirteen were found in quarantine. Imported cases are expected to decline, with travel slowing during and after the Lunar New Year holidays. Likewise, with more flights today, it has led to a drop in the infection rate. Two imported cases were from Palau, as Palau’s first imported cases, following COVID-19 infections there.

The cases in Yilan are linked to a hotel in Jiaoxi. The source of the infection is unknown, with 915 people tested in connection with the case. About 90 close contacts have been listed. The action was quick on this cluster whose distribution seems limited.

Infographic of new cases as of today (left) and test results for imported cases by country (right). Photo credit: Department of Health and Welfare/Facebook

Some new cases added in Kaohsiung and Taoyuan were discovered under quarantine, which means the effect on the community is expected to be limited. Cases in Kaohsiung at the Port of Kaohsiung include port workers who work on more than one ship, the owner of a store in the port and their child, as well as offsite workers who are sometimes in the port.

Regarding the case at the Grand Hotel in Taipei, the source of infection of this cluster is unknown. However, the CECC states that it has some clues as to the source of infection for this cluster and the Yilan cluster. Cases in Hsinchu have been linked to Taoyuan Bank, with some cases in Hsinchu now considered less of a concern thanks to genetic testing.

Although there were fewer national cases reported today, the CECC warned that this could be due to reduced testing over the weekend. The CECC stressed that the next few days would be crucial in investigating the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, there have been some difficulties in tracing the workers or former workers of Farglory. The CECC has urged these people to get tested.

The current Level 2 alert remains, but some measures that currently only apply to Greater Taipei, Keelung and Taoyuan will now be extended nationwide. Masks must be worn outside at all times, including while singing, taking photos or appearing on live streams.

Whether or not politicians continue their usual rounds depends on the Interior Ministry, but Chen Shih-chung said he hopes politicians will set an example for members of the public. Similarly, testing for high schools and colleges will take place based on the CECC’s assessment of educational institutions’ COVID-19 prevention measures.

QR code recording for contact tracing should also continue to be implemented. Outside the defined areas, eating is prohibited on domestic flights. Social distancing should also be maintained for large gatherings, such as religious events. Dining establishments that violate COVID-19 prevention measures will be notified once and subsequently have their ability to provide indoor dining services suspended.

Businesses are discouraged from hosting year-end banquets if they are unable to maintain COVID-19 measures. That decision is up to the company, although Health Minister Chen Shih-chung mentioned that some companies have moved to online year-end banquets.

Outside of emergencies, hospital visits are not permitted. Hospital visitors must also have negative COVID tests within three days. If they have been fully vaccinated with two doses, this will be paid for publicly, otherwise it must be paid for privately.

The same regulations apply to carers for the elderly and for long-term care facilities. People entering long-term care facilities cannot participate in group activities for fourteen days, although they can be released if they test negative for COVID-19 on day seven. The CECC is likely cautious about the possibility of COVID-19 clusters developing in long-term care facilities, as has happened in the past.

The first shipment of Molnupiravir COVID antivirals arrived today, enough for 2,016 people. The overall order was 5,000 people. An order for Pfizer COVID antivirals has now been increased to doses sufficient for 20,000 people.

75,000 vaccinations took place yesterday. This brings coverage in Taiwan to 81.16% for the first dose of vaccination, 73.59% for the second dose of vaccination and 16.64% for boosters. Another round of booster vaccinations is due to begin on January 26. 1,500,000 million doses of Moderna are expected to arrive in the next few days.

Contact tracing card released for today. Photo credit: Department of Health and Welfare/Facebook

The CECC was asked about setting up specialized vaccination sites for Medigen, but did not provide an answer. Taipei and other cities said they would continue vaccination during the Lunar New Year holiday.

686 cases are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including domestic or imported cases. 115 cases are in reinforced quarantine facilities.

The Taoyuan city government announced plans to maintain enhanced quarantine facilities after the Lunar New Year. Taoyuan also announced the suspension of many Lunar New Year festival events, including the Lantern Festival, as a COVID-19 prevention measure.

The Taipei City Government says 1,000 vials of Moderna are missing, following the CECC, affecting 20,000 people. The CECC denied that was the case today, saying it was due to Taipei taking more vaccination appointments. Regarding Taipei’s plans to deploy a vaccine passport system through the TaipeiPASS system, the CECC said it does not object to vaccine passport systems being rolled out by other cities.

Chen Shih-chung pointed out that the CECC is still currently aiming for a COVID-zero approach, even as there are increasing discussions about coexistence with COVID-19.

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