CORONAVIRUS/Rapid testing to replace preventive quarantine: health minister
Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Plans are underway for rapid testing to replace preventive quarantine as a new protocol for those who come into contact with people who test positive for COVID-19, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Thursday.
To preserve the country's response capability in the face of the recent spike in domestic COVID-19 cases, the Central Epidemic Control Center (CECC) recently decided to allow medical professionals who have had three vaccine shots to receive regular rapid or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests instead of entering quarantine, after being listed as a close contact of a confirmed case.
The minister said on multiple occasions recently that a list of jobs for which the same protocol is to be adopted will be announced this week.
At a routine CECC press briefing on Thursday, Chen added that the plan is to replace preventive quarantine with tests across Taiwan, with the timeframe of the policy's implementation to be determined by the degree of public acceptance.
With daily case numbers in the thousands depleting the nation's rapid test reserves, the minister said close to 30 million newly purchased rapid tests will be available by early next month.
While 7.59 million rapid test kits produced by Abbott Laboratories are scheduled to arrive at the end April, another 21 million produced by Roche Diagnostics are expected to arrive on May 2, Chen said.
The CECC plans to introduce a rapid test kit rationing and purchase mechanism through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Chen said.
In addition, individuals in self-health management are not required to take rapid tests, though it is recommended to ensure the safety of those living in the same location, he added.
No one will be penalized for not taking tests in self-health management, Chen said, adding that the COVID-19 virus generally does not reproduce itself after five days of testing positive, with the risk of transmitting the virus drastically lowered by the 10th day.
Hospitals will start to focus on treating patients rather than managing quarantine, as the response measures to the pandemic has shifted to quarantining at home, the minister said.
The CECC said Thursday that the latest statistic indicate cases in Taiwan will continue to increase over the coming days, with a daily case number of between 6,180 and 15,583 expected on April 30.
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