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Taiwan looks to lower COVID category by May

Schools to ease indoor mask mandate on March 6

(Freepik photo)

(Freepik photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that the indoor mask mandate for schools will be lifted on March 6, infection control rules will be relaxed in hospitals in April, and it is planning on lowering COVID's classification in May.

At a press conference on Thursday (March 2), CECC head Victor Wang (王必勝) said that local COVID cases have steadily dropped. Although Taiwan just had a long weekend for the 228 Memorial Day holiday, Wang said that there does not appear to be an upswing in new cases.

Wang said that the outbreak continues to show a flat trend and the number of moderate and severe COVID cases and deaths has decreased in comparison with previous weeks. Therefore, Wang said that the next stages of easing epidemic prevention can be discussed.

Wang said the preliminary plan is to loosen regulations in three stages. In the first stage, there will be a loosening of rules in the community with priority given to the completion of a new system exempting mild COVID cases from reporting and quarantine.

The second stage will be to loosen requirements in medical institutions, research the establishment of special wards, and revise nosocomial infection control operations. The third stage will be to downgrade the classification of COVID from a Category 5 communicable disease to a Category 4.

Wang said that only when COVID is reclassified as a Category 4 communicable disease will the CECC be downsized or disbanded.

He pointed out that in April, the World Health Organization will discuss whether to end COVID's designation as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Then, in May, Wang said that the U.S. and Japan would begin to downgrade their classification of the disease.

With the loosening of the indoor mask mandate on school campuses on March 6, Wang noted that preparations for the additional easing of regulations will begin next week. He estimated that the first stage of easing epidemic prevention measures will start in March, the second stage will take place in April, and the center will strive to complete the downgrading of COVID by May.

Wang added that this process could even occur more rapidly if everything goes smoothly. He added that discussions on the disbanding of the CECC will not be held until these stages are complete.