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Taiwan braces for January peak as COVID surges

COVID set to claim 7th spot on list of 10 leading causes of death in Taiwan

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People walk on the street in Taipei, Taiwan July 25, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wnag

People walk on the street in Taipei, Taiwan July 25, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wnag

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Officials warned on Tuesday (Dec. 5) that a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Taiwan could peak in January as the disease is on track to emerge as the seventh leading cause of death in the country for 2023.

This year, COVID has claimed over 7,000 lives in Taiwan, with 31 deaths reported between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, marking the highest toll in four weeks, according to Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), spokesperson for the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Among the recent fatalities was a man in his 40s from northern Taiwan, who had chronic illnesses such as hypertension and arrhythmia. He succumbed to COVID-induced multiple organ failure six days after the onset of symptoms, said medical officer Lin Yung-ching (林詠青).

The surge in COVID cases is anticipated to reach its peak in mid to late January, with daily infections ranging from 18,000 to 20,000, CNA quoted Lo as saying. The virus, which was the third-largest killer in 2022, is projected to secure the seventh spot among the top 10 leading causes of death this year.

To mitigate the impact, the public is strongly advised to get vaccinated against the XBB variant. Reportedly, this vaccine is effective in reducing the likelihood of severe implications by 50% and deaths by 61%.

Inoculations are available at over 3,000 hospitals and clinics nationwide, with approximately 1.03 million doses in stock. Additional doses will be procured if demand arises, said Lo.