TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (April 8) issued guidelines to allow mild COVID cases to undergo treatment at home.
During the day, the CECC announced 384 local COVID cases, showing a pattern of rapidly increasing counts due to the infectious nature of the Omicron variant. However, as over 99% of Omicron cases in Taiwan have been mild or asymptomatic, the CECC plans to promote the "New Taiwan Model" to achieve its goals of "normal life, active epidemic prevention, and steady opening up."
In order to ensure the implementation of its strategy of "clearing out severe cases and effectively controlling mild cases," CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced the center's new "Guidelines for Home Care Management" at that afternoon's press conference.
To be eligible to stay at home while infected with COVID, one must be under the age of 65, not pregnant, and not require dialysis. To be allowed to undergo treatment at home, the COVID case must either be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, pointed out that the terms of the home environment must also be met. Imported cases diagnosed during quarantine or just before the end of quarantine must be able to meet the requirements of "one person per household." This can only be changed to "many persons per household" if there are multiple confirmed cases in the same home and one of the family members is needed to provide care or needs to be cared for.
Those who are diagnosed after completing home quarantine may apply to stay at their residence for the isolation period provided they can meet the home environment requirements.
Lo said that if a person is classified as a local case, they must follow the principle of "one person per room," unless multiple people in the family have already been diagnosed, in which case they can follow "many persons per room." If members of a household wish to share a bathroom with a COVID case, they must properly clean and disinfect it after each usage. Seven days of self-health management must be adhered to after isolation ends.
He stated that no more than four people can stay in the same household as a confirmed case, and they must stay in rooms that are separate from the infected person. They must all undergo home quarantine for 10 days after the case has been diagnosed.
On the fifth and 10th days of isolation, family members must take rapid antigen tests. Enhanced self-health management must be observed by family members for seven days after the case's isolation period ends, and they must take rapid antigen tests on the third and seventh days.
For cases that meet the conditions to undergo home care, the local government will issue an isolation notice and monitor with an "electronic fence" that is supported with two-way SMS messaging to conduct follow-up care. During the home isolation period, the government will integrate various units to establish a "COVID-19 Case Care Service Center" to evaluate for medical care, deliver rapid antigen test kits, provide pulse oximeters, arrange for telemedicine, ambulance services, and other matters.
While undergoing home care, Lo advised cases to immediately seek medical attention by calling 119, the health department, or 1922 if they experience one or more of the following four serious symptoms:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Persistent chest pain or chest tightness
- Confusion or inability to wake up
- Blue skin, lips, or nail beds.
Lo pointed out that people undergoing home care must meet two conditions before they can be released from isolation. First, a symptomatic case must have gone one without fever or other symptoms. Second, it must be more than 10 days since the onset of symptoms and the result of a rapid antigen test is negative or, if the rapid antigen test is positive, a subsequent PCR test must be negative, or the Ct value should be equal to or greater than 30.
As for people living in the same household as a confirmed case, Lo said that undiagnosed members of a household must stay in the home for 10 days after the case's diagnosis. After the 10-day isolation period has passed and all occupants have tested negative on a rapid antigen test, they must undergo seven days of enhanced self-health management.
During the self-health management period, they must take rapid antigen tests on the third and seventh days. If the rapid antigen test result is positive, they must receive a negative result on a PCR test or have a Ct value of 30 or more to be allowed to complete the isolation process.