by Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Cheng-en Cheng/WikiCommons/CC
ONE DOMESTIC CASE and four imported cases were announced today at the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) daily press conference. Zero new deaths were announced.
The new case was a disinfection worker in the Taoyuan International Airport, as a result of which the case is in Taoyuan. This new case was found due to testing requirements as part of work and previously tested negative on September 7th. Contacts from September 8th onward have been quarantined, including family, co-workers, and other contacts. This is a total of 45 contacts. Contact tracing is under way.
Information on the domestic cases announced today (left) and imported cases (right). Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook
Preliminary results indicate that this is a Delta variant case, making this among 48 domestic Delta variant cases to date. The CECC will release more detailed genetic testing information on if this case is related to other Delta variant clusters tomorrow. However, with the Delta variant increasingly becoming the dominant variant of COVID-19 globally, it is to be expected that a worker at Taoyuan International Airport might come into contact with the variant from travelers. As such, the case will prove a test of measures to prevent the spread of the Delta variant among airport workers that are more likely to come into contact with it. This case had only one dose of vaccine, so is not classified as a breakthrough case.
No new cases were added to the Banqiao elementary school cluster, which the CECC views as stable. 2,081 tested in the first round as part of this cluster, with 22 positive results and 2059 negative results. 996 have been tested in second-round testing to date, with 3 positive results, and 993 negatives.
In Taipei, five kindergartens and four elementary schools were closed due to contacts with this case. 219 first-layer contacts were quarantined in Taipei, with 1,010 second-layer contacts quarantined, and 116 workplace contacts. The number of individuals in quarantine dropped from over 1,000 to around 500 yesterday, with more expected to be released in the coming days. This approach of quarantining layers of contacts will be used for cluster infections in the future.
From September 6th to September 14th, 28,598 were tested in neighborhood testing stations in New Taipei, with no new positive cases found this way. Similarly, 1,826 tests yesterday in testing stations in Taipei found zero cases.
Because there is currently a gap between vaccination periods, there were only 13,927 vaccinated yesterday. This brings vaccination coverage to 48.79%, which is 53.32 doses per 100 people.
The CECC went over the ten most frequently asked questions on the online vaccination system today. These questions include that if someone has to cancel a vaccination appointment, their appointment rolls over into the next round of vaccinations. If individuals need to receive first dose vaccination for leaving the country, this is done through the online vaccination system. For second dose vaccination, individuals can bring relevant materials to medical institutions, who will make an assessment of whether to allow for a vaccination.
Likewise, data is preserved in the online vaccination registration system between vaccinations. Symptoms for one or two days after vaccination is normal, but medical help should be sought if symptoms do not go away. Home quarantines are still not allowed for returning travelers.
Negative PCR tests and low Ct value ten days after decline in symptoms are required for release from quarantine under strengthened measures implemented as of September 3rd.
National Taiwan University is conducting trials mixing first dose Moderna with second dose Medigen. Discussion will also proceed on mixing mRNA vaccines, with Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung stating that Taiwan would not only carry out practices that other countries have already implemented, otherwise Taiwan would never lead in anything. United Biomedical’s attempt to appeal the decision against its Emergency Use Authorization is proceeding normally.
There are high rates of willingness for vaccination in schools, with detailed statistics available soon. When asked about claims that Taichung has less willingness to be vaccinated, Chen Shih-chung stated that this would eventually be known, and called on the public and media not to speculate. In Taipei, 93% of students have expressed a willingness to be vaccinated, along with parental approval, with 1.3% wanting to be vaccinated in hospitals but most willing to be vaccinated in schools. New Taipei is collecting statistics today regarding willingness. BioNTech vaccines used for vaccinating students have six doses per bottle, unlike other vaccines, so this may lead to some delays.
The government still intends to assure adequate supply of Moderna for individuals that had Moderna as their first dose and wish to use Moderna for their second dose and the CECC will report on when new shipments of Moderna arrive. More AstraZeneca second dose vaccinations are taking place now, due to individuals that had first dose AstraZeneca vaccination, and many Moderna vaccinations are at ten weeks since the first dose.
Testing and contact tracing information for the Banqiao cluster. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook
Chen Shih-chung takes the view that vaccination is unlikely to reach 100%, seeing as there are no vaccines currently available for young children. The CECC also called on individuals not to post photos of their national IDs online, with widely circulated disinformation claiming this is needed, and emphasized that the use of national IDs information for vaccination is private, as with other medical use of national IDs.
There are currently no plans by the CECC to relax the current level two alert on September 20th, when the alert goes until, given the recent cluster infections. Some measures may be relaxed or left up to local authorities to decide on.
New Taipei mayor Hou You-yi, too, took the view today that the situation in New Taipei was under control and progressing in a good direction. Consequently, indoor dining will resume in New Taipei tomorrow. Sports facilities that were previously closed will be reopened. The strengthened level two alert in New Taipei will go until September 21st and New Taipei will not allow barbecue in public areas over the mid-autumn festival, with barbecue in private areas allowed but discouraged. New Taipei will have statistics on willingness for vaccination in schools soon. Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je also said that barbecues will not be allowed in public areas in Taipei but can take place in private areas.