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CORONAVIRUS/Weekly new COVID-19 cases hit highest level in 2024: CDC

07/02/2024 08:58 PM
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People at the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo July 2, 2024
People at the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo July 2, 2024

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) A total of 932 new COVID-19 cases with complications were reported last week, the highest weekly level in 2024, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Tuesday.

At a weekly press briefing, CDC spokesperson Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑慧) said that the number of confirmed local cases reported between June 25 and July 1 was up 14 percent compared to the previous week.

However, the rate of increase has slowed compared to the previous two weeks, she said.

Furthermore, 64 new deaths were reported during the June 25-July 1 period. That marks a new high in the Omicron outbreak, which began in early June.

Tseng noted that approximately 100,000 COVID-19-related visits to emergency and outpatient departments were made last week. She said the trips were made by around 50,000 people.

Models suggest the pandemic will continue to rise and peak in mid-July. Weekly visits to the emergency room for COVID-19-related illnesses are expected to rise, peak in mid-July at 120,000, and subsequently decline slowly.

Continuous monitoring will be necessary to determine when the pandemic will end, she added.

CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said that among the fatalities was a teenage boy in northern Taiwan who had epilepsy. He had received his last COVID-19 vaccine in 2022 and had not received the newer XBB.1.5 vaccine.

In late June, he experienced fever, seizures, and difficulty breathing. He was admitted to the emergency department with a high fever of 42 degrees Celsius and persistent seizures.

The patient suffered cardiac arrest at the hospital, was resuscitated, but remained in critical condition and was admitted to the intensive care unit, Lin said.

The boy tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced liver, kidney, and heart failure. His blood pressure was also unstable.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19-induced encephalitis and septic shock. Despite being treated with antiviral drugs, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and vasopressors, his condition deteriorated rapidly, leading to another cardiac arrest the following day, which was fatal despite resuscitation efforts.

Regarding COVID-19 vaccination, Tseng said 29,000 doses of the XBB.1.5 vaccine were administered last week, a 16 percent increase from the previous week.

Tseng reminded the public that less than 12 percent of the people in Taiwan have received the updated shot. Although many believe older vaccines offer protection, she said studies show only the XBB.1.5 vaccine is effective against current variants.

CDC official Lee Chia-lin (李佳琳) said that locally transmitted and imported cases over the past four weeks are mainly the JN.1 variant, accounting for 47 percent and 38 percent of cases, respectively.

The proportion of the KP.2 variant has slightly increased, to 20 percent of local cases and 25 percent of imported cases, Lee added.

Lee noted that the LB.1 variant has seen a recent rapid increase. It now accounts for 14 percent of local cases and 9 percent of imported cases.

Tseng explained that Taiwan detected its first local LB.1 case in mid-May and that the number of cases has continued to rise, with six detected last week.

(By Tzeng Yi-ning and Evelyn Yang)

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