CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan suspends some COVID contact tracing, adopts new control model

04/07/2022 09:15 PM
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Photo for Illustrative purposes. Source: Pixabay
Photo for Illustrative purposes. Source: Pixabay

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Thursday that COVID-19 contact tracing has been partially suspended in Taiwan and a new disease control model is being put in place, amid a rise in domestic cases.

The immediate suspension of contract tracing applies only to travelers who test positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan, either on arrival at the airport or during mandatory quarantine, Chen said.

That decision was made in a bid to free up resources to monitor the growing number of domestic COVID-19 cases, he said at a press briefing, after he reported 531 new cases -- 382 domestically transmitted and 149 imported.

Chen said contact tracing on new imported cases will only be done if any of them are believed to be linked to COVID-19 clusters at quarantine hotels or quarantine centers in Taiwan.

Prior to Thursday, Taiwan had been reporting its contact tracing information on imported COVID-19 cases via the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (IHR) mechanism, he said.

Regarding the recent daily rise in domestic infections, Chen said the current goal is to bring the situation under control, even though it is impossible to achieve zero new domestic cases at this time.

Despite the recent spike, the daily number of domestic COVID-19 cases in Taiwan is still low compared to many other countries, he said, citing as an example the 534 new cases per 100,000 population reported in South Korea on Tuesday.

Once people in Taiwan stick together and do their part to prevent the spread of the virus, the situation will be manageable, Chen said.

Based on the trajectory of COVID-19 Omicron outbreaks observed in many other countries around the world, he said, it is likely that the infections in Taiwan will peak in a month or two.

"We do not expect the outbreak to stop growing now, but we hope it will rise slowly, so that Taiwan's medical capacity will not be overloaded," Chen said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Cabinet announced that Taiwan was adopting a new model for the control of COVID-19 infections.

Under the "new Taiwan model," the country has let go of its goal to achieve zero COVID-19 cases, but this does not mean allowing the pandemic go unmanaged, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said, citing Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

In a meeting earlier with Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) officials, Premier Su said that as Taiwan moves towards a new stage of epidemic prevention, he hopes that the central and local governments will work together to gradually open up the country, in the interests of its people and economy, according to Lo.

In a report presented to the Cabinet on Thursday, the MOHW said Taiwan will continue to actively manage the COVID-19 situation, while steadily opening up its borders, in consideration of national economic factors and the people's livelihood.

(By Lai Yu-chen, Chiang Hui-chun, Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Chieh-ling and Ko Lin)

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Update

April 27: Taiwan to start rationing sale of COVID-19 rapid test kits

April 26: COVID vaccine rollout for 6-11-year-olds to start May 2: MOE

April 25: Shorter '3+4' quarantine for COVID-19 contacts to begin Tuesday

April 25: Taiwan will retain 10-day quarantine rule for arriving travelers: CECC

April 21: Rapid testing to replace preventive quarantine: health minister

April 15: Taiwan mandates 3 COVID shots for high-risk groups, venues

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