TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei City could decide to cancel New Year’s Eve celebrations just three days before Dec. 31 if the threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant warrants such action, Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Saturday (Nov. 27).
The Omicron strain originating in Southern Africa has been described as much more likely to spread and to resist vaccines than previous variants. The emergence of Omicron in at least four locations around the world caused panic on global stock markets Friday (Nov. 26).
While more than a month remains to organize Taipei’s celebrations, Ko emphasized the need for a quick and adequate response, the Liberty Times reported. If the need arose, the city should be able to call off all events just three days before, the mayor said.
“Response” and “safeguard” are the two key elements of government policy in a post-COVID world, according to Ko. If safeguards took precedence, then no activities should be organized, but it was better to be prepared with a quick and adequate response.
Taiwan experienced a spot of “bad luck” in May when there was a major local outbreak of COVID. Otherwise, the country had handled the pandemic relatively well for almost two years, Ko said.
The mayor called on people to get vaccinated as soon as possible as a way of allowing the country to reopen. Up to 20% of people above the age of 70 have not been inoculated yet, Ko said.
Taipei City’s annual New Year’s Eve celebrations center on Taipei 101 and include fireworks and concerts attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers.