CORONAVIRUS/CECC adjusts positive test policy for COVID contacts in nursing homes

05/08/2022 08:43 PM
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Eastern Region Senior Citizens
Eastern Region Senior Citizens' Home under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taitung County, where a cluster of infections was identified in late April. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 8 (CNA) Nursing home residents who are close contacts of COVID-19 patients and obtain a positive rapid antigen test result will now be counted as confirmed cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Sunday.

The new rule, which will be applied retroactively from May 5, is intended to ensure that nursing home residents can quickly access prescription medication, given their high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, CECC official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said at a press briefing.

It expedites part of a broader policy that will take effect on May 12, allowing people in home isolation who obtain a positive rapid test result to be counted as confirmed COVID-19 cases, instead of requiring a more accurate but relatively time-consuming PCR test, Lo said.

Meanwhile, at the press briefing, Lo also responded to an online rumor that Taiwan was prescribing oral antiviral medication only to people with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun at Sunday
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun at Sunday's COVID-19 press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Lo said doctors may prescribe oral antiviral drugs, such as Pfizer's Paxlovid or Merck's molnupiravir, to people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infections, if they are over the age of 64 or are at risk of severe disease.

Patients with moderate or severe COVID-19 symptoms are given any of a number of medications, including Remdesivir and steroids, based on the assessment of their doctors, but they are seldom given oral antivirals, Lo said.

To date, doctors have prescribed around 1,200 courses of Paxlovid and 700 courses of molnupiravir, Lo said, adding that the drugs are being transferred to 57 "core pharmacies" around the country, as shipments arrive.

Taiwan's government said in late April that it had taken delivery of 180,000 courses of Paxlovid and was expecting to receive another 520,000 courses by the end of June.

It has already received all 5,040 courses of molnupiravir it had ordered, according to the CECC.

(By Chen Chieh-ling, Chang Hsiung-feng and Matthew Mazzetta)

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