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Taiwan steps up supply of oral COVID drugs to Indigenous areas, outlying islands

Doctors can judge whether residents need PCR test first

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COVID testing on the outlying island of Kinmen. 

COVID testing on the outlying island of Kinmen.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Residents of Indigenous areas and the country’s outlying islands will soon find it easier to obtain oral anti-COVID medicine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday (May 21).

If people in those areas test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test, they will be eligible for the oral medicine without having to undergo a PCR test, at least if a doctor gives his approval, CNA reported.

Doctors can issue their opinion either after a face-to-face meeting at a clinic or hospital or via video conferencing using a specialized app. At present, a PCR test is necessary before a person is allowed to obtain oral drugs.

The only exceptions to that rule are COVID cases aged 65 or older, infected persons in home quarantine, close contacts of a COVID case in the 3+4 or 0+7 isolation programs, and travelers testing positive during their quarantine after arriving in Taiwan.

The expansion of oral drug distribution will apply to residents of 55 villages and other locations officially recognized as Indigenous areas as well as to residents of islands, including offshore islands such as Penghu County. The CECC said the measure would take effect Monday (May 23).