CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to maintain current border rules in light of new subvariants

07/04/2022 06:36 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, July 4 (CNA) Taiwan will maintain its current border restrictions, including a weekly arrivals cap of 25,000, for the time being, due to concerns over rising case numbers globally and the newest Omicron subvariants, Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said Monday.

There was a 21-percent increase in global case numbers last week compared to the previous week, with a notable rise in Europe and the United States, Lo said, summarizing conclusions reached at a Cabinet meeting earlier that day.

The increase could be attributed to summer travel and the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, he said.

Although domestic case numbers have continued to decrease, Taiwan has detected more BA.4 and BA.5 cases at the border, which, combined with an expected increase in domestic travel and gatherings due to the summer holiday, pose a risk to Taiwan, Lo said.

Due to these concerns, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has decided to keep the current border rules in place, Lo said.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) will make adjustments to Taiwan's border rules based on the domestic COVID-19 situation and medical capacity, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press briefing Monday.

When asked whether this meant that the current border restrictions would remain in place through the month of July, Chuang said not necessarily, as the CECC would conduct weekly reviews on the issue.

Also on Monday, the CECC said that 17 travelers who recently arrived in Taiwan had been found to be infected with the BA.4 Omicron subvariant and 95 were found with the BA.5 subvariant.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 36 cases of BA.4 and 202 cases of BA.5, all of which were among incoming travelers who tested positive at the border, said Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC's medical response division.

Arrivals from the United States have recorded the highest number of BA.4 and BA.5 cases, followed by Germany and France, Lo said.

Taiwan has not yet detected any domestic cases of the two subvariants, Lo added.

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were first detected in January and February 2022, respectively, in South Africa. They can evade immunity from prior infections and appear to be more transmissible than the first Omicron variant, according to the CECC.

The BA.5 subvariant has replaced BA.2 as the dominant strain in some countries including France, the CECC said, noting that Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Japan have all cited the two new subvariants as a factor in their recent rise in cases.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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