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Weekly COVID-19 cases in Taiwan nearly double to 623

06/18/2024 06:52 PM
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CDC Deputy Director-General and spokesperson Tseng Shu-hui speaks at a news conference Tuesday. CNA photo June 18, 2024
CDC Deputy Director-General and spokesperson Tseng Shu-hui speaks at a news conference Tuesday. CNA photo June 18, 2024

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) A total of 623 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported from June 11 to 17, nearly double the previous week's 329 cases, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

At a weekly press briefing, CDC official Lee Chia-lin (李佳琳) explained that the domestic epidemic is rising and is currently in the pandemic phase. In addition, there were 38 new deaths, up from 20 the previous week.

CDC spokesperson Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑慧) said that mathematical modeling suggests this wave of the epidemic will peak in August and September, with a decline expected after September.

Among the severe cases with complications, there were two male infants under 1, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said.

One of them, a 3-month-old unvaccinated infant from the south with no underlying health conditions, developed fever, cough with phlegm, and a runny nose in mid-June, and experienced breathing difficulties the next day, according to Lin.

He tested positive for COVID-19, and an X-ray showed pneumonia. Due to respiratory distress, the infant was admitted to the intensive care unit. His condition improved, and he was discharged on the fifth day of hospitalization, Lin explained.

The other case was an 8-month-old unvaccinated male infant from the central region with no underlying conditions, Lin said.

In mid-June, he had a high fever and cough with phlegm and tested positive for COVID-19 and adenovirus.

The next day, he developed rapid breathing, decreased activity, and poor appetite. At the hospital, he had low blood oxygen levels, and bilateral pneumonia on X-ray, and tested positive for COVID-19 on both rapid and PCR tests.

He was admitted to the ICU and discharged on the fifth day, Lin said.

In response to concerns about the epidemic's impact on infants, Tseng explained that parents are more likely to seek medical attention for infants, leading to higher reported cases.

Over the past four weeks, the complication rate for infants under 1 with COVID-19 remains below 1 percent without a significant increase, Tseng said. Current U.S. CDC statistics also show no higher severe disease rate in infants compared to adults, she added.

On the international front, Lee reported a global rise in cases, with a 9.7 percent positivity rate from May 27 to June 2. The JN.1 variant is dominant, but KP.2 and KP.3 are also rapidly increasing, Lee said.

Lin reminded the public that facing the new variants, even those who have previously been infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated with older versions of the vaccine, may still have insufficient protection, potentially leading to susceptibility to reinfection and symptoms such as high fever and upper respiratory tract infections.

Tseng encouraged those who have not yet received the XBB vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible while explaining that research has found the current prevalent variants have higher transmissibility.

Regarding the XBB.1.5 vaccine currently in use, Tseng stated it still maintains the effectiveness of 50 percent to 60 percent in preventing infection, 60 percent to 80 percent in preventing severe cases, and reduces mortality by 60 percent to 70 percent.

(Tzeng Yi-ning and Evelyn Yang)Enditem/ASG

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