TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With fewer than 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases for 10 straight days, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (July 12) announced that the country's R number has been below 1 for three weeks.
At a press briefing on Monday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that the country's R number has been less than 1 for three consecutive weeks. He said that unless there is a large cluster infection, the number of daily cases in the coming weeks should remain within the 20-30 range and gradually decrease.
In the context of the pandemic, R is short for the basic reproduction number (R0). In the absence of herd immunity, R measures the average number of persons one COVID-positive individual infects. The larger the R number, the more difficult it is to control community transmission.
During the sudden spike in cases in May, Taiwan's R number hit a peak of 15 between May 13 and 15, which is the same level of infectiousness as measles. However, after a Level 3 alert was launched on May 15 in Taipei and New Taipei and across the country on May 19, the epidemic situation moved into what the CECC has deemed to be a "controllable range."
As of Tuesday (July 13), 19 days have passed since the last time Taiwan reported 100 cases in one day, with 129 cases on June 24. The country has also reported fewer than 50 cases a day for 10 days in a row.
The steady decline in cases emboldened the CECC to relax some of the Level 3 restrictions starting Tuesday. Nevertheless, the CECC on July 8 extended overall Level 3 measures to July 26.