TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A prominent psychiatrist pointed out on Tuesday (May 17) that based on COVID case numbers over the past week, infections appear to be plateauing in northern Taiwan while steadily increasing in southern parts of the country.
Shen Cheng-nan (沈政男) noted on his Facebook page that there have been 60,000 daily COVID cases reported in Taiwan over the past six days. He observed that over this period, cases have been steadily declining in Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, and Taoyuan, while infections have been rising in Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Shen argued that the decline in the north was caused by a drop in the Rt value, which shows how fast a virus is spreading at a particular point in time, to about 1.3. He theorized that most socially active people in northern Taiwan have been infected, while many in central and southern Taiwan have yet to be exposed.
He predicted that if crowd flows increase, less active people will also be infected. He stated that initially, the north accounted for 80% of new cases, but this ratio has dropped to 60%.
Shen said that just as cases in the north are falling, cases in the south are rising. He asserted that cases in the central and southern regions will soon surpass those in the north and eventually lead to a more balanced distribution of infections nationwide.
He estimated that by May 28, the number of new cases in Taiwan will rise to more than 100,000 per day.
During a meeting of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee in the Legislative Yuan, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) that day was asked to comment on Shen's theory that cases are shifting southward. Chen denied that infections are moving specifically from north to south but conceded that public transportation will inevitably lead to the spread of the virus across the country.
When asked to comment on Shen's prediction that cases will rise to 100,000 per day by May 28, Chen said the situation is constantly changing and that relevant data can be used for reference. However, he also emphasized that although "it is not easy to provide such a precise estimate, it is also good to a have concept (of potential numbers)."