Taipei, June 2 (CNA) Taiwan on Thursday reported 76,986 new COVID-19 cases — 76,967 domestically transmitted and 19 imported cases — and 144 deaths from the disease, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Here are some of the new developments regarding the COVID-19 situation around Taiwan that day:
Free COVID-19 rapid test kits
Licensed home-based daycare providers in New Taipei will receive two COVID-19 rapid tests free of charge, according to the city’s mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), with around 5,500 people eligible to receive the test kits.
Hou made the announcement at a New Taipei City Council hearing after city councilor Liu Mei-fang (劉美芳) said licensed home-based daycare providers were left out of a central government plan announced at the end of May that provides three rapid test kits per person to staff at long-term care institutions and childcare centers.
According to Liu, each licensed home-based daycare provider looks after four infants on average and also needs to have rapid tests on hand to determine if they are infected and stop any preventable transmission.
Pregnant mothers in Kaohsiung will be eligible to receive five free rapid tests, while disabled people can receive two, according to the city’s mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).
There are about 17,000 pregnant women and 14,000 disabled people in Kaohsiung.
In addition, staff working at long-term care institutions in the southern port city will be given an epidemic prevention incentive allowance for two months, totaling NT$6,000 (US$205), benefiting about 6,000 people, Chen said at a COVID-19 press briefing.
Meanwhile, Taichung will hand out two free rapid test kits to workers who serve socially disadvantaged people, educators, primary disease prevention workers, pregnant women, workers in the livelihood sector, transportation workers, and public service workers, according to the city’s mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕).
About 370,000 people are expected to receive rapid tests from the handout, Lu said.
Resuming onsite classes
The northern port city of Keelung plans to resume onsite classes for high school and junior high school students starting June 6, while elementary school students will continue online classes until June 10, according to the city’s Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌).
During a city council meeting, Lin said the decision was made because new daily COVID-19 cases are on the decline, and elementary school students will start a little later than other students because they have only just started to receive their vaccination jabs.
In addition, Keelung City government staff will also end work-from-home protocols and return to the office on June 6, Lin said.
In Hualien, high school, vocational, junior high, elementary school, and preschool students will continue with online classes until June 8 and return to onsite classes June 9, the County government said in a statement.
However, children who have no parent or guardian to look after them at home during the day can still go to school where lunch will be provided, the statement said.
In Hsinchu City, high school, junior high, and elementary school students will continue online classes until June 10, the city government said in a statement.
However, schools are free to decide to hold physical or online graduation ceremonies, Hsinchu City said.
In Yilan, classes at the 134 community centers across the county are suspended until the end of June.
The county government said in a statement that all classes were originally suspended from May 23 to June 5, but decided that will now be extended to June 30.
Taoyuan child vaccination program to run though Dragon Boat Festival
Parents in Taoyuan can take their children to Taoyuan Arena or Pingzhen Maternity and Child Center from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1 p.m.-4 p.m. from Friday to Sunday to get inoculated with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).
Parents can make reservations online or just turn up.
Vaccinations for 5-year-olds in Miaoli on Dragon Boat Festival
Four special Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination sites in Miaoli County will be available Friday for 5-year-old’s who have not yet started attending elementary school.
The four sites in the county are Toufen Junior High School, Jaunan Elementary School’s activity center, Miaoli Arena, and Yuanli Chung Chen community civil center.
Reservations are advised as each site has only 200 slots.
Drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Taipei’s Wenshan District to close June 3
A drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Taipei’s Wenshan District that opened on May 11 will close Friday after only a small number of people visited the site.
According to the city’s Department of Health statistics, on May 31 only 229 people got tested at the site and it is currently administering fewer tests than all the other drive-through testing sites in the city.
As Taiwan experienced a surge in local COVID-19 infections in May, Taipei also set up drive-through testing sites in Beitou-Shilin Technology Park on May 4 and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on May 17.
However, the number of daily local infections in Taipei has since seen improvement.
NTUH doctor mulls factors for acute encephalitis in child COVID-19 cases
Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), a pediatric infectious diseases physician at National Taiwan University Hospital speculated that COVID-19 could be causing encephalitis in children as a result of the virus traveling to the brainstem along the cranial nerves responsible for smell and taste, causing inflammation.
A total of 29 children aged 12 or under have developed severe complications of COVID-19, including 15 diagnosed with encephalitis. Among the 12 children that have died, five had encephalitis.
As encephalitis is considered very dangerous, the best prevention is to avoid COVID-19 infection, Lee said.
Incentives to holiday in Keelung
In an effort to attract tourists to Keelung, Mayor Lin said in a statement that the city will pay travel agencies NT$200 and NT$500 for each tourist in one-day and two-day group tours of the northern port city, respectively.
The subsidy will be limited to 50 people per tour group, Lin said.
In addition, a total of 10,000 individual travelers who visit Keelung, have had three shots of a COVID-19 vaccine and show a negative result using a rapid test on the day of their arrival can enjoy NT$500 off their room rate.
They will also receive a NT$40 discount on entry to tourist sites, such as YM Oceanic Culture & Art Museum and Heping Island Park etc.
(By William Yen)