CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan's ACIP head thinks it's time to end quarantine for arriving travelers
Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), head of Taiwan's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), said Thursday that in his view, the country's quarantine policy for arriving travelers should be scrapped, as the vast majority of COVID-19 cases are now domestic.
In addition, the main COVID-19 variant circulating internationally right now - the BA.5 -- is already widespread in Taiwan, which means "there is no need to be so strict," Lee said, when asked about his views on the issue, during a radio interview.
Lee acknowledged, however, that government leaders "might have their concerns and want to observe (the situation) for a little while longer," in part because of the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, which topped 40,000 on Wednesday for the first time since late June.
"But if you look closely at the data, the numbers of severe cases and deaths are not rising, which shows that the virus is gradually becoming endemic and producing milder symptoms," he said.
Under Taiwan's "3+4" quarantine policy that has been in place since June 15, arriving travelers are required to quarantine for three days, either at home or at a quarantine hotel, then observe four days of "self-initiated epidemic prevention."
On the issue of vaccines, Lee said he thinks that people who are eligible for the second-generation Moderna shots should take them when the vaccine is rolled in Taiwan in late September, rather than wait for a product that specifically targets the BA.5 variant of the virus.
Given that new variants are cropping up every three to six months, there could be an entirely new strain circulating before a BA.5-specific vaccine becomes widely available, he said.
On the question of why only 9.7 percent of Taiwan's population had received a second COVID-19 vaccine booster, meaning a fourth shot, Lee said he thinks people are increasingly seeing the virus as similar to the common cold.
Lee said he had long anticipated that COVID-19 would become endemic, creating a situation where "regardless of new variants and breakthrough infections, the numbers of severe cases and death will remain stable."
In such a situation, he said, it may well be possible to take two doses of a second-generation vaccine and then rely on the body's T cell response to do the rest.
"As soon as this no longer poses a threat to life, there won't be any need to take COVID-19 vaccines all day and night," he said.
New COVID-19 rules
Taiwan's eased border controls in 2022
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