TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is considering discontinuing its home isolation policy for contacts of COVID cases and is eyeing a booster shot coverage rate as a criterion for phasing out the policy.
During a press conference on Sunday (May 2), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that home isolation may be phased out in the near future. Chen said a major determining factor will be the extent to which the population has received a booster dose of the COVID vaccine.
Under the scheme dubbed "3+4," COVID case contacts can undergo a reduced home isolation period of three days under the principle of one person per room. On the third day, the contacts must take a rapid antigen test, and if the result is negative they are allowed to end their home isolation and commence four days of self-health monitoring.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) last week proposed a new version of the plan called "0+7" in which COVID contacts could dispense with home isolation and directly start seven days of self-health monitoring, so long as they test negative on a rapid antigen test each day during that period. The plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Welfare for review.
In addition, Director-General of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁) called on the government to relax the isolation policy and suggested that the CECC lower the status of COVID-19 from a Category 5 communicable disease to a Category 4, which includes diseases such as influenza, in order to avoid the collapse of the epidemic prevention system.
At the press briefing on Sunday, Chen said that the center is considering phasing out the "3+4" program once the coverage rate of the booster dose reaches a certain level. On April 28, Chen said the goal is to reach a coverage rate of 65% by mid-May, and on Saturday (April 30) he said that the long-term goal is for 84.36％ of the population to receive a third shot.
As of Sunday (May 2), the vaccination coverage rate for the booster had reached 59.58%.