TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Monday (May 17) proclaimed that Taipei residents have already 'voluntarily locked down the city" and demanded that universities be shut down as well.
On Monday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced 335 new coronavirus cases, including two imported cases and 333 local infections — a record one-day high for Taiwan since the pandemic began. At a press conference held by the mayor that afternoon, he pointed out that 158 of the latest cases were in Taipei, with Wanhua District seeing the most at 89 infections.
In response to dramatic scenes of empty streets seen across the city on Sunday, Ko asserted that the people of Taipei have "voluntarily locked down the city, rather than through the use of force by dispatching troops." To match the suspension of K-12 classes in Taipei and New Taipei, Ko called on the Ministry of Education to shut down university campuses.
The mayor said that Taipei has run rapid testing on 1,130 people for the coronavirus and that 113 have tested positive, representing a positivity rate of 10 percent in some areas, such as Wanhua. He said that this means that community transmission is now taking place in Taipei.
Ko then exhorted all Taipei residents to stay at home as much as possible and suggested that shops that do not sell items essential for people's survival suspend operations. He pointed out that the number of cases has risen rapidly and medical treatment will be problematic if infections soar too quickly.
He said that it will be up to the people to manage themselves and solve the crisis. If infections increase too rapidly and exceed medical care capacity, "the system will collapse," warned Ko.
On Saturday (May 15), when Taipei and New Taipei announced a Level 3 alert would be issued for the two cities, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said a full Level 4 will not be held unless there are at least 100 new cases for 14 straight days. Currently, Taiwan has reported over 100 new cases for only three consecutive days.