Taiwan is likely to see a nationwide decline in daily COVID-19 cases after June 10, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.
Taiwan’s COVID-19 situation is still plateauing, with case numbers declining in the north, but rising in the south, although the situation is likely to improve nationwide after Friday.
Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), made the comments while visiting a temporary vaccination center for children set up at Liberty Square in Taipei.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
He said it remains to be seen whether the gathering of crowds over the Dragon Boat Festival holiday weekend will have an impact on case numbers.
However, as crowds at major tourist spots had been relatively small, the impact would probably be minimal, he said.
Later in the afternoon at the CECC’s daily news conference, Chen addressed the issue of loosening border restrictions, saying that the CECC would begin by shortening quarantine times for inbound passengers, and allowing passengers to be picked up and dropped off by friends or relatives.
While the specifics and a timeframe remained to be determined, Chen said the CECC would most likely start by implementing a “three-plus-four” quarantine policy, in which arrivals would quarantine for three days, followed by four days during which they would be required to avoid crowds while monitoring their health condition.
Taiwan yesterday reported 62,080 new domestically transmitted cases and 124 deaths.
The 124 people who died of COVID-19 complications ranged in age from nine to more than 90.
Fifty-seven were unvaccinated, and 116 had chronic illnesses or other severe diseases, the CECC said.
The nine-year-old who died had a congenital heart defect and had relied on oxygen support before testing positive for COVID-19, the CECC said.
He passed away on Tuesday due to complications related to his heart disease and COVID-19 leading to multiple organ failure, it said.
His death brings the number of children, defined by the CECC as up to 12 years old, who have died after contracting COVID-19 in Taiwan to 15.
Separately yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) urged the CECC to stipulate a clear deadline for cremation, so funeral businesses can treat the deceased with respect.
The call came after Chen last week said there are no regulations stipulating that the remains of confirmed COVID-19 patients must be cremated within 24 hours of death.
Tseng said Chen’s statement was an apparent deviation from remarks made by Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is also deputy head of the center, on June 8 last year that “the funeral industry should take precautions to reduce risks, and remains should be cremated within 24 hours.”
Over the past two years, the common practice of cremating remains of confirmed COVID-19 patients within 24 hours of death has denied many families the opportunity to say farewell properly to their loved ones, Tseng added.
Chen Shih-chung responded by saying that as COVID-19 is classified as a category 5 notifiable communicable disease in Taiwan, cases should be reported within 24 hours.
Following that, the remains of those who died after being diagnosed with the disease must be cremated or reported to the local authorities to seek permission for a deep burial, the minister said.
As there was much concern about the COVID-19 situation during the initial domestic outbreak of the pandemic, funeral businesses generally chose to have the remains of confirmed cases cremated as soon as possible, he said.
The minister added that there were no regulations stipulating that the remains of confirmed COVID-19 patients had to be cremated within 24 hours of death.
If the funeral industry believes there is a need to establish related standard operating procedures, local government civil affairs departments should collect opinions, and ask the CECC to review the situation and develop guidelines, he added.
UPBEAT OUTLOOK: The impact of Dragon Boat Festival travel remains to be seen, even though crowds at tourist spots were relatively small, the health minister said Taiwan is likely to see a nationwide decline in daily COVID-19 cases after June 10, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. Taiwan’s COVID-19 situation is still plateauing, with case numbers declining in the north, but rising in the south, although the situation is likely to improve nationwide after Friday. Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), made the comments while visiting a temporary vaccination center for children set up at Liberty Square in Taipei. He said it remains to be seen whether the gathering of crowds over the Dragon Boat Festival holiday weekend will have an impact
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