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Taiwan health minister explains 400 retroactively added cases

'Twin City' mayors of Taipei and New Taipei say reporting delay makes sense, call for public patience

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has shared the backstory to the 400 new, locally transmitted COVID-19 cases that were retroactively added for the past week, in an attempt to clear confusion among the general public.

Taiwan reported 321 new local COVID infections on Saturday (May 22), along with 400 cases over the last six days whose positive tests were not included in previous reports. The two sets of numbers have led some netizens to question the legitimacy of the country's total case counts.

However, the "Twin City" (雙北, "double north") mayors of Taipei City and New Taipei City — respectively, Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Hou You-yi (侯友宜) — echoed Chen's explanation and called for the public's understanding. They also urged Taiwanese to continue to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.

Meanwhile, after pointing out the 400 extra was the result of slow reporting of numbers, at the press briefing Saturday afternoon, Chen Shih-chung gave a clearer explanation of how the retroactively added cases came about during a press interview that same evening.

Chen said COVID test results are usually available within two days and that it is normal for there to be a discrepancy between the number of people taking the tests and the number of test results. However, the discrepancy expanded to over 10,000 cases on Wednesday, prompting the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to investigate the situation.

After talking to local health authorities, the CECC found the complicated reporting system had prevented hospitals from uploading files of confirmed test results in a timely manner, Chen noted. He said the CECC responded by simplifying reporting protocols and was able to process 14,000 unreported results, of which 400 came back positive.

Chen admitted that more retroactively-added cases could appear this week due to the high number of unreported results. However, he promised the CECC is doing everything it can to process these cases and provide the most accurate daily case counts.

Updated : 2021-06-19 09:30 GMT+08:00