CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan reports 175 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths (update)
Taipei, June 17 (CNA) Taiwan on Thursday reported 175 new cases of COVID-19, all of which were domestically transmitted, as well as 19 deaths from the disease, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
New Taipei again accounted for the highest number of new cases, with 87, followed by Taipei with 34 cases, Miaoli with 31 and Hsinchu County with 10, Deputy CECC chief Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) said at a press briefing.
In Miaoli, 30 of the 31 cases were migrant workers who have been in quarantine since an outbreak of cluster infections at their companies earlier this month, while the cases in Hsinchu were the staff and residents of a long-term care facility, Chen said.
Meanwhile, Taoyuan reported seven cases, while Hualien, Keelung and Taichung each reported two.
Of the 54 cases outside New Taipei and Taipei cities, only one had an unknown source of infection, the CECC said.
The 19 deaths were 11 men and 8 women in their 40s to their 90s, who passed away between June 8 and June 15, according to the CECC.
To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 13,584 COVID-19 cases, of which over 12,000 are domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded more than 100 cases in a single day.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen to 497, including 485 since May 15.
Earlier on Thursday, government officials responded to growing speculation about whether current COVID-19 restrictions might be relaxed, following a string of days in which case totals have been relatively low.
According to CECC data, Thursday was the fifth consecutive day on which Taiwan has reported fewer that 200 new COVID-19 cases.
Before that, it reported 200-plus daily cases from June 7-12, and totals averaging in the 400s and 500s from mid-May through early June.
Commenting on this trend, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that things are clearly "moving in the right direction," but warned that Taiwan "doesn't have the luxury" of easing current restrictions.
In terms of strategy, he said, the government now believes it has sufficient supplies of medical resources, such as hospital beds and medicines used to treat COVID-19, and will begin pushing to expand rapid testing at companies, in local communities and at home.
As to whether the country's Level 3 COVID-19 alert will be extended beyond the current June 28 deadline, the next 10 days will provide the basis for that decision, said Deputy Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元).
Echoing Su, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the government must ramp up community testing to quickly catch new infections, and maintain strict border controls to ensure that the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 does not enter the country.
Beyond that, it needs to quickly expand access to vaccines in order to reach some level of herd immunity, Chou said.
As of Wednesday, only 1,178,104 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Taiwan, out of a population of 23.5 million.
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