by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: 玄史生/WikiCommons/CC

SIX DOMESTIC CASES and four imported cases were announced by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) at its daily press conference today. Two of these cases were already in quarantine. No deaths were announced. 

92.3% of all cases to date have been released from quarantine. 5,000 vaccinations took place yesterday, which is a low amount of vaccinations, but brings vaccination to 39.58% coverage, which is 42.86 per 100 people. 

Three cases were in Taipei and one case each was reported in New Taipei, Taoyuan, and Yunlin. The case reported in Yunlin breaks a 62-day streak in which Yunlin reported no cases. The CECC stated that this case is not expected to lead to spread in Yunlin, however, and that it should be less an object of concern because the person in question did not get COVID-19 in Yunlin. The case may be an older COVID-19 case. 

Information on the new cases today. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

The two imported cases were of fully vaccinated individuals, meaning they were breakthrough cases. Taiwan has had 19 imported breakthrough cases to date, eight of which were vaccinated with BioNTech, five of which were vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and three each for Johnson and Johnson and Moderna. 

The CECC does not oppose reopening slides and other playground equipment in parks, seeing as such equipment is opened up in indoor play centers. The CECC still expects it to be some time for reopenings in the entertainment industry, seeing as this is where the outbreak began. 

The CECC will look into vaccinations for food vendors at school, with schools set to begin classes again in the fall. 

Medical personnel are allowed to conduct mixed vaccinations, but are not restricted to mixed vaccination. 

Taiwan currently has 95% attendance for vaccination appointments, which does not vary substantially between different vaccine brands. What the rate of attendance for Medigen will be remains to be seen. More vaccinations may be added to this round if there is willingness and supply, seeing as local governments have the capacity to carry out sufficient vaccinations. 

Information on the imported cases reported today. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

Different hospitals may have different requirements for visitors to enter the hospital, though the CECC is allowing negative tests from antibody or PCR tests as the requirement to enter the hospital. Entering a hospital, visiting a patient at a hospital, and outpatient services have different regulations. 

When asked about Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je’s proposal to institute vaccine passports and create different areas for the vaccinated and unvaccinated, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung stated that this could lead to issues with children being separated from their parents, since children cannot be vaccinated. When asked about cases of individuals buying plane tickets to claim that they need to be vaccinated with their second dose of vaccination, then canceling the plane ticket, Chen stated that the CECC discourages this. 

Chen stated that schools should set policies to make life easier for students and parents, when asked about schools that require students to pay for the cost of their own barriers. 

Chen did not give a concrete answer when asked if imported cases found in Palau may mean that the Taiwan-Palau travel bubble will be called off.

United Biomedical has criticized the Tsai administration for rejecting its application for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). United Biomedical claims that the Tsai administration cannot evaluate the effectiveness of its vaccine from the limited period of the trial, that it is too narrow in comparing the effectiveness of its vaccine to AstraZeneca, and that the government announced some standards too late for it to know about ahead of time. It is to be seen whether United Biomedical going public with criticisms of the Tsai administration’s EUA affects the political legitimacy of Medigen. United Biomedical is still being allowed to proceed with phase three trials, which are expected to take place outside of Taiwan.

According to New Taipei mayor Hou You-yi, the one case in New Taipei today was found in quarantine and was located in Xinzhuang. This case is thought to have potentially gotten COVID-19 from their father. Two have been quarantined in connection with this case, while other cities with contacts have been notified.

Further data released by the CECC. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

Hou stated that New Taipei does not intend to comply with the central government when it comes to allowing individuals that live together to eat without barriers. New Taipei will evaluate whether to reopen playground equipment, Hou declining to give firm answer on whether New Taipei would break from the central government from this issue and stating that it would not reopen basketball courts as well. At the same time, Hou was critical of the idea of vaccine passports as proposed by Ko Wen-je, emphasizing that young people have mostly not been vaccinated, and that young people would all be put in the unvaccinated area. Hou otherwise defended measures instituted by New Taipei to require two PCR tests to be released from quarantine.

When asked about Taipei having allocated 2.8 billion NT to purchasing third doses for next year, Hou used the opportunity to attack the central government over the issue of third dose vaccinations, claiming that the central government had not offered any plans regarding this. Hou did not mention that the CECC has already announced that it has purchased 20 million Moderna vaccines for use next year. Hou also called on the central government to adhere to principles of not forcing anyone to be vaccinated, positively citing Chen Shih-chung stating yesterday that members of the army would not be forced to be vaccinated with any vaccines, but spinning this in the direction of suggesting that the central government was forcing the public to be vaccinated with Medigen due to lacking supply of other vaccines. This is increasingly the rhetoric from the pan-Blue camp.

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