• Directory of Taiwan

Taiwan to limit PCR tests to those with positive rapid COVID test result

Rule introduced by Taipei Saturday set to go into effect nationwide

Residents line up to buy COVID rapid test kits in New Taipei City Friday. 

Residents line up to buy COVID rapid test kits in New Taipei City Friday.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — COVID-19 PCR tests will soon only be available for people whose rapid tests produce a positive result, Taiwan’s top health official said Saturday (April 30).

The country reported a record 15,033 local infections Saturday, a rise of 25% from the previous day, with three people confirmed to have died of the virus. People have been lining up outside pharmacies to buy rationed COVID rapid test kits.

As Taiwan residents have also visited hospital emergency wards for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Taipei is the first city to ask people to show up at one of its seven free PCR test sites only if their rapid test is positive for COVID.

On Saturday, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the same restriction would soon be imposed nationwide, CNA reported. At present, about 100,000 PCR tests are being conducted per day, but capacity has reached 190,000, showing there is still an adequate number of tests.

Responding to the question of when wearing a mask outside the home would no longer be compulsory, the CECC official said there is no timetable. Eventually, he conceded, mask-wearing at some venues might no longer be necessary.