by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Foxy 1219/WikiCommons/CC

21 DOMESTIC CASES, 43 imported cases, and zero deaths were reported at the Central Epidemic Command Center’s daily press conference today. 

15 of the imported cases were found on arrival, while 27 were found in quarantine. One of the imported cases was, however, an older case. Positivity rates are lower now for incoming flights, which is a good sign. 

There were thirteen cases from Taoyuan. Several cases were added from restaurants that previously confirmed cases ate at, while other cases are linked to a cluster at kindergarten. Genetic testing has cleared up previously unknown sources of infection, so that two previously unclear transmission chains are now thought of as the same chain.

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

Eight cases were added to the Port of Kaohsiung cluster. None of the cases added today have unclear sources of infection, however. 

Genetic testing shows that the Port of Kaohsiung cluster does not match other strains circulating in Taiwan currently. An airport cleaner originally thought to have a similar strain was later found not to be a match. 

One of the new cases added today visited a testing site for exams. 221 were tested in connection to this individual and all tested, with 112 put in home quarantine and 99 on self-health management. Another high school student had 235 tested in connection with him, with 195 in the neighborhood. Likewise, all proved to be negative. 235 were put in quarantine and 85 in self-health management. 

8,100 are in home isolation and 40,000 are in home quarantine currently. This is the highest number of individuals put in home isolation or home quarantine in the last two years. 

Sufficient doses of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID antiviral medication, to treat 3,200 arrived today. After South Korea, this makes Taiwan the second country to receive Paxlovid in Asia. Taiwan was previously also the second country in Asia to receive Merck’s COVID antiviral, Molnupiravir, after Japan. Taiwan is the first country in Asia to receive both COVID antivirals. 

Contact tracing map for the cases reported today. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

918,400 BioNTech vaccines also arrived today. This is the last shipment of BioNTech from the vaccines purchased by TSMC, FoxConn, and Tzu Chi. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung thanked the two companies and religious organization for their contribution to Taiwan’s efforts to fight COVID-19 today. 

Of 1.5 million vaccine doses available for registration as part of the vaccine registration period that ends today, 1.16 million appointments have been made, which represents 76.57% of vaccinations. 321,907 were vaccinated yesterday. First dose vaccination is at 81.48%, second dose vaccination is at 74.22%, and booster shot vaccination is now at 20.37%–breaking 20% for booster shots. 

When asked about the Taipei city government’s claims that it is shifting to a “level 2.5” alert status, Chen stated that local governments were welcome to shift COVID alert levels according to their specific needs. During the COVID-19 outbreak that began last year in May, pan-Blue local governments sought to escalate the COVID alert status in order to try and frame the Tsai administration as not doing enough to fight COVID-19. This seems to be another attempt at that from Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je, who has also in past days accused the CECC of failing to distribute enough vaccines to Taipei. 

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