The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday raised the weekly cap on inbound travelers to 50,000, effective immediately, as it announced that the weekly COVID-19 case count had started to increase last week.
International demand for travel to Taiwan has been increasing, while more students from abroad are expected to arrive with the new school year beginning next month, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the center.
“In light of high demand and manageable risks, we are expanding the capacity of inbound travelers to Taiwan from 40,000 per week to 50,000, effective immediately,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan International Airport Corp
The COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down in some countries and the positivity rate of inbound travelers has remained the same, Wang said.
Taiwan’s local outbreak is so far developing as predicted, and there is enough airport testing capacity and quarantine hotel capacity, he said.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), head of the CECC’s disease surveillance division, said 16,669 new local cases, 242 imported cases and 23 deaths were confirmed yesterday.
The daily local caseload rose 7 percent from Monday last week, he said.
Wang said the weekly local caseload peaked in the 21st week of this year, which spanned May 22 to 28, after which the figure fell for 11 consecutive weeks, until last week.
A total of 152,773 local cases were confirmed last week, a 2.9 percent increase from the previous week, when 148,479 cases were confirmed, he said.
“It is a warning sign that case numbers might start to rise again, so we are urging people to get vaccinated, thoroughly follow COVID-19 regulations, protect high-risk groups, and prepare personal protective equipment,” Wang said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said one of the deceased confirmed yesterday was a one-year-old girl.
She developed cold-like symptoms on Aug. 12 and starting having shortness of breath on Aug. 14. She lost consciousness with a high fever the following day and was rushed to a hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19.
She died of respiratory failure, Lo said, adding that 28 children have died of COVID-19 this year.
Three cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) were also confirmed yesterday, taking the total to 112 cases so far this year, he said.
Lo said genome sequencing was conducted on 67 virus samples collected last week from imported cases.
Sixty-two cases, or 92.5 percent of the total, had new Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2, 57, or 85 percent, had the BA.5 subvariant, three had BA.2.75 and two had BA.4, Lo said.
Thirty-four local BA.5 infections were confirmed last week, including 26 cases in northern Taiwan, he said.
BA.5 cases accounted for 18 percent of local cases chosen for genome sequencing nationwide, he said.
The prevalence rate of BA.5 was about 23 percent in northern Taiwan, and 10 percent in central and southern Taiwan, he added.
The ratio of local BA.5 infections has increased only slightly, suggesting that the previous outbreak of the BA.2 subvariant created an “immunity firewall” in local communities, he said.
All BA.5 infections reported so far were asymptomatic or mild cases, he added.
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