TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid a major spike in COVID cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Monday (May 2) that it will only administer PCR tests to people who experience symptoms of the virus, unless they test positive on a rapid antigen test beforehand.
During a press conference that day, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that in order to lessen the burden on hospital emergency rooms, where people have been rushing to get screened for COVID, people who are asymptomatic must first receive a positive result from a rapid antigen test before they can undergo PCR testing. Chen then announced five major contingency measures to relieve overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms caused by the rush to get tested:
- Local governments are requested to open more community testing stations.
- Hospitals are requested to open fever clinics to triage patients.
- People who are asymptomatic must receive a positive result on a rapid antigen test before they can receive a nuclei acid PCR test. Whether asymptomatic people in quarantine and home isolation can undergo PCR testing will depend on local regulations.
- Community clinics are encouraged to invest in providing and expanding testing services.
- Hospitals are asked to adopt measures to reduce their burden and allocate sufficient manpower for testing, new case reporting, and bed control.
Chen pointed out that there are currently 344 community testing stations across the country and that 104 specialized hospitals have opened epidemic prevention or fever clinics. People who have received a positive result from a rapid antigen test or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus should check the websites for local governments or hospitals to find the nearest testing facility.
Chen emphasized that when setting up community testing stations, local governments are required to post primary care physicians at these stations to assess whether there is a risk or sign of severe illness. In the case of a positive rapid antigen test and mild symptoms, Chen said that nurses can provide medical instructions and doctors can go ahead and prescribe medicine to treat symptoms while patients wait for their PCR test results.