TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following the announcement of 29 local COVID-19 cases on Friday (May 14), Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung said that a Level 3 epidemic warning is not yet necessary, but there are "a few fires burning" right now.
With Chen's announcement of 29 local COVID-19 cases, the most since the start of the pandemic in Taiwan, the total number of local cases reported from May 11 to May 14 has risen to 64. When asked if there is a plan to raise the country's epidemic warning to Level 3, Chen there is no plan to do so yet because some of the connections between cases need to be clarified.
He added, "There are a few fires that are burning very hot right now."
Chen explained that the areas in Taipei's Wanhua District, where many of the infections were detected, took place under "predictable circumstances." He said the center is actively investigating all the avenues of transmission, identifying contacts, and isolating them.
He pointed out that Taipei has set up four new rapid testing stations to more swiftly identify infected individuals. The CECC has also sent out text messages to 600,000 people deemed to be in areas where infected persons were present.
The CECC head also stated that many unidentified people who have purchased over-the-counter medications may be infected. He called on pharmacists to persuade people with suspected symptoms to undergo coronavirus testing and that bonuses will be awarded to those who find COVID-19-positive cases.
The following measures have been incorporated into the CECC's four-tier system:
- Masks required on public transportation and in public areas
- Recommendation that non-essential gatherings be postponed or canceled
- Businesses and public venues required to implement real-name registration, social distancing, temperature checks, and regular disinfection
- Fines for failing to abide by mask rules
- Outdoor gatherings over 500 and indoor gatherings over 100 banned.
- Public gatherings must include social distancing, masks, partitions, real-name registration, temperature checks, crowd control, and regular disinfection or be canceled
- Wearing of masks at all times outdoors
- Indoor gatherings limited to five people
- All places of business and public venues are shuttered, with the exception of essential services, police departments, hospitals, and government buildings
- Masks and social distancing required at all businesses or venues that remain open
- In areas where community transmission has taken place, residents are restricted to a set perimeter and must submit to COVID-19 testing
- People can only leave home for essential activities and must wear a mask and maintain a social distance at all times
- Even when at home, masking and social distancing must be practiced
- All public events canceled, with the exception of essential services such as law enforcement, medical and government services
- All in-person school and work activities suspended
- Lockdowns will be imposed in counties, cities, or townships where an outbreak has become severe. Only designated persons may enter or leave these lockdown zones, and residents must stay in their homes
The following are the criteria for each of Taiwan's four epidemic warning tier levels:
Taiwan's criteria for its epidemic warning levels. (Taiwan News, Venice Tang illustration)