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Medical capacity an indicator for Taipei to enter soft lockdown

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je says key lies in availability of hospital beds

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People are tested at COVID screening center in Taipei.

People are tested at COVID screening center in Taipei. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Thursday (May 5) the number of available hospital beds will be used as an indicator to determine whether the capital is to implement a "soft lockdown."

Ko noted earlier that as Taiwan approaches the limit of PCR testing, the number of new daily cases may no longer reflect the true scale of the latest outbreak. This means the city will have to rely on other criteria to impose COVID restrictions, per Newtalk.

The surgeon-turned politician who previously worked at the National Taiwan University Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine said that medical capacity, particularly the availability of beds, will serve as a gauge. What matters are the data for COVID-dedicated beds, vacant beds, as well as hospital discharge and admission.

Ko has instructed all hospitals in Taipei to tighten the rules for COVID patient admission, such as whether an individual requires supplemental oxygen. Optimized use of limited resources is necessary as infections surge, he added.

Taipei has boosted the number of COVID specialized clinics to 11, including 10 hospitals and one makeshift facility at Beitou Shilin Technology Park. These have a combined daily PCR testing capacity of 5,540, per CNA.

The mayor has suggested a soft lockdown as a last resort to curb the spread of the virus, which entails restricting people’s movements, banning dine-in services, promoting work from home, among others. Taipei has called for treating those positive from a rapid test as confirmed cases, a move to be adopted nationwide from May 12, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced on Thursday (May 5).