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Taiwan rolls out five measures for delta variant monitoring

With local infections largely checked, Taiwan is focusing on keeping out highly contagious variants

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A vendor wears a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a roast shop in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.

A vendor wears a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a roast shop in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan announced five measures Monday (Aug. 23) to keep a watch on the highly transmissible delta strain of COVID-19, in a move towards a more nuanced approach to reducing the risk of community spread.

Free rapid COVID test kits will be available for residents at community clinics starting Aug. 30 if they are deemed to have been exposed to the virus. They will be asked to self-screen at home and seek PCR tests at designated medical facilities should the results come back positive.

High-risk workers at the country’s four international airports — in Taoyuan, Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung — will be required to undergo rapid COVID tests every seven days from Aug. 30. This is meant to beef up border preparedness against the pandemic.

Also, as part of the border control, the packaging of imports of frozen meat, aquatic goods, and fruits will be examined to see whether they have been contaminated with the virus.

Following sporadic reports of COVID having been detected in Taiwan’s sewage systems, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said the number of sewage monitoring sites will be expanded from 11 to 22 for better early warning.

Meanwhile, serology tests will be conducted using 5,000 random samples donated to blood banks nationwide between April and July to look for antibodies against COVID-19. This will serve as a reference to assess the prevalence of COVID infections in the population.

As of Aug. 20, Taiwan had recorded 67 cases of the delta variant, including 54 imported and 13 in a local cluster in Pingtung. Among them, 12 cases were detected in arrivals between Aug. 13-19, and eight of them had received at least one COVID vaccine, according to the CECC.