CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan COVID-19 News Briefs: May 28
Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Taiwan reported on Saturday 80,881 new COVID-19 cases, including 80,835 domestic and 46 infected abroad, as well as 127 deaths, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Here are some of the new developments regarding the COVID situation around Taiwan Saturday:
Border control easing
Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Saturday that the relaxation of Taiwan's border controls will depend on the country's ability to maintain health system capacity.
With Taiwan experiencing a COVID-19 infection rate similar to that around the world, at around 6 percent, it will be reasonable to ease border controls given that the risk of contracting the disease in Taiwan or overseas is basically the same, Chen said.
Chen said the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) had held discussions with the Ministry of Economic Affairs on the easing of border controls and will soon involve the tourism sector for related talks, with details likely to be announced in June.
Meanwhile, deputy head of the CECC's medical response division Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said the total number of confirmed cases so far this year was around 1.7 million with 1,058 deaths, meaning a fatality rate of 0.06%.
In Taipei, the city's health bureau reported 7,998 cases. The bureau added that the city still has 899 beds available in its hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) reported 1,433 cases in his city on Saturday, the lowest number of confirmed cases for the port city in 20 days.
As such, Lin said that the peak of the pandemic in his city had already passed.
Meanwhile, Yilan County also reported that the five community testing centers in its jurisdiction will be converted into multifunction testing centers starting May 30, providing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, rapid test positive diagnosis, pandemic clinics, and drug prescriptions.
Regarding testing sites, Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) on Saturday announced that the mass testing station at the city's Central Park will be downsized to take appointments only.
Lu said the decision came in the wake of the nation's new policy to treat rapid test positive cases as confirmed cases, drastically easing the burden on the nation's need for PCR tests.
Free rapid test programs initiated throughout the country
The central government and several cities and counties in Taiwan have begun launching programs to provide free rapid tests to various demographics.
CECC's Chen announced that considering the living conditions and subsequent side effects of the COVID-19 virus on the homeless population and senior citizens living alone, the CECC will be giving five doses of rapid tests to these people for free, which will benefit around 810,000 people.
For Taipei, the city's health bureau said families with children from 0 to 6 years old would be eligible to get five free COVID-19 rapid tests.
The program will start June 1 and parents will have to go to district health centers with their child's National Health Insurance card to collect the free tests, the bureau said.
Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) in Taoyuan, meanwhile, said that after procuring 2 million rapid tests, his city would give out two rapid tests for free to senior Taoyuan residents who are 65 and above, effective May 30.
Child vaccine rollouts
● Taipei's health bureau said that between May 28 and 31, one children inoculation station will be set up in each of the city's districts to provide the vaccine to kindergarten children whose parents are unable to take them to their schools to get vaccinated. Parents can make appointments for these stations every Tuesday or Wednesday using Taipei's online platform.
Parents can also make appointments to have their child vaccinated at 16 of the city's hospitals that have COVID pediatric clinics.
● In Tainan, Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) reported that since initiating child vaccinations on May 25, the city had given out 11,029 jabs by May 27.
Currently, the city is planning to deploy medical professionals to schools in the city on June 7 to provide vaccinations to more children.
● In Taichung, Mayor Lu said the city was able to get 12,000 more Pfizer BNT vaccines for children from the central government, adding that parents could make appointments for children ages 5 and above beginning Saturday with the city's hospitals for sessions between May 30 and June 2.
● Kaohsiung, meanwhile, announced that it will launch five community inoculation centers specifically for children on Sunday.
Beginning next Tuesday, four hospitals will also initiate special pediatric clinics for vaccination with appointment available now over the city government's website.
Additionally, the city also aims to complete children inoculation at schools before June 8.
● New Taipei also provided a timeframe for completing child inoculation in schools, which will be June 10.
● Finally, Keelung will establish a child vaccination center at the southern square of the Keelung Train Station on May 29.
The city said there will be 1,000 jabs of Pfizer BNT children's vaccines available for children ages 5 to 11.
Also, 500 slots in the morning will be open to children with residency in Keelung, while the other 500 spots available in the afternoon will not have such a restriction.
Nantou County, meanwhile, reported that a total of 1,158 children had received the county's 1,800 vaccine doses.
First COVID death in Penghu
A 78-year-old women in the offshore county of Penghu became the county's first COVID-19 fatality on Saturday.
According to the county's health bureau, the woman had tested positive on May 21 and was admitted to a negative-pressure isolation room on May 23 after her condition worsened.
According to the bureau, the woman suffered from pre-existing conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
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