TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Tuesday (Jan. 18) said Taiwanese need to be mentally prepared to "coexist" with COVID.
During a press conference, Chen observed that there are more than 3 million new COVID cases confirmed around the world every day. Nevertheless, he stressed that it is still possible to contain the local outbreak.
Chen said that although the source of infection of a family in Hsinchu is not yet known, the cluster at the Union Bank in Taoyuan is within a controllable range. He warned that given the spread of the Omicron variant domestically and abroad, people need to mentally prepare to "coexist with the virus."
However, Chen said that the CECC will currently operate under the premise that the outbreak can be controlled and take the necessary multilevel epidemic prevention measures to reach zero cases. He said that as long as epidemic prevention measures such as vaccination, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing are implemented, it is still possible to reach zero cases.
As for concerns that the domestic outbreak has progressed to the point that genetic sequencing cannot keep up, Chen emphasized that the central government and local health departments "will not sleep" and that while every source of transmission can be found, they will do their utmost to bring the outbreak under control as soon as possible.
He pointed out that home rapid antigen tests are now very popular and that people have become more alert, which helps with epidemic prevention.
Regarding whether eating will be allowed on Taiwan High-Speed Rail and Taiwan Railways Administration trains during the Lunar New Year, Chen said an intermediate approach between zero-COVID and coexistence is being taken. If there are many infections from unknown sources in the community, Chen said that it would be necessary to ban eating on trains.
Chen stressed that at this point, there is no clear evidence of a wide range of unknown sources of community infections. He said that as long as people wear a mask when taking public transportation, passengers who wish to eat or drink can take their masks off to do so.