Starting today, the travel advisory for all countries would be lowered to level 2 — “alert” — but people are still advised to get vaccinated and practice preventive measures when traveling abroad, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 52,338 new local COVID-19 cases.
The CECC raised the travel advisory to level 3 — “warning” — on March 21, 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and advised people to avoid unnecessary travel abroad.
The downgrade is being implemented in coordination with today’s border reopening, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesperson.
Photo: CNA
New case counts could be underreported following the reopening, as many countries have reduced their COVID-19 testing capacity, he said.
The pandemic is still ongoing, and people should get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before traveling to other countries and take personal preventive measures when abroad, he added.
Personal preventive measures include washing hands thoroughly and frequently, observing cough etiquette, wearing a mask when needed, and avoiding crowded places and areas with high infection risk, Chuang said.
The CECC yesterday reported 52,338 new local and 67 imported cases, and 37 deaths.
Chuang said the local caseload is the second-highest since an outbreak driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2 began in August, but it is 4.6 percent lower than Wednesday last week.
The youngest fatality was a one-year-old boy who did not have chronic health conditions and was unvaccinated, said CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division.
He was initially diagnosed with the common cold at a clinic, but was found unresponsive the following morning, he said.
He was not breathing and had no pulse when he arrived at an emergency room.
He tested positive for COVID-19 post-mortem, with a high cycle threshold value of 37.5, indicating a very low viral load, Lo said.
His cause of death was COVID-19 and respiratory failure, he added.
Lo said 10,709 courses of oral antiviral drugs for COVID-19 treatment were prescribed on Tuesday, marking the highest daily number since the BA.5 outbreak began.
Reporters asked if eligibility for being prescribed the Paxlovid antiviral could be expanded to include people aged 12 or older, similar to South Korea.
Lo said South Korea on May 13 lowered the minimum age requirement to 12, but people still need to meet certain criteria to be eligible, such as having underlying health conditions, the same as in Taiwan.
Taiwan has relatively loose eligibility criteria for Paxlovid prescription, which include being aged 12 or older and having a high-risk health condition, Lo said.
People in New Zealand need to have three high-risk health conditions to be eligible for the drug and two conditions are required in Australia, while Singapore has set the minimum age for eligibility at 18, he added.
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