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CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to fully lift mask mandates, including for hospitals

05/08/2024 09:56 PM
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Visitors to the Taipei Medical University Hospital on Wednesday enter and exit with their masks on. CNA photo May 8, 2024
Visitors to the Taipei Medical University Hospital on Wednesday enter and exit with their masks on. CNA photo May 8, 2024

Taipei, May 8 (CNA) People heading to medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics, as well as senior nursing homes, will no longer be required to wear face masks starting May 19, ending all mask mandates in Taiwan, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.

Once the mandate has been lifted, it will only be "recommended" that individuals visiting those medical or elderly welfare facilities wear a mask, according to a CDC statement.

The decision was made by an expert panel based on the fact that COVID-19 has been stable and under control in Taiwan and that pandemic control measures have been relaxed around the world, the CDC said.

When asked why the mandate would not be lifted until May 19 rather than immediately, CDC Deputy Director-General Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑慧) told CNA that there were guidelines that needed to be revised, which will take some time.

"Once we've completed the revisions, it will be submitted to the [health] minister for approval. Only after the minister approves it can it be officially implemented," Tseng said.

In place since Dec. 1, 2020, the mandate on wearing masks in medical facilities and nursing homes has been in effect for over 1,000 days, while restrictions for other settings have become less prevalent.

Yet while the mask mandate will soon be removed, the CDC announced Monday the implementation of a free home rapid test kit program to encourage the use of approximately 10 million COVID-19 rapid test kits that will soon reach their expiry dates.

In a press release Monday, the CDC said the initiative was designed to maximize the effectiveness of stockpiled epidemic prevention materials and "ensure timely access to appropriate medical care for vulnerable populations through early detection."

The CDC said on Tuesday that there were 229 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from April 30 to May 6, slightly up from 185 a week earlier.

(By Sunny Lai)

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