The nation marked its 49th day with no new domestic COVID-19 cases yesterday, and there were no new imported cases, but that does not mean the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) can relax its attention, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday in Tainan as he and a team of health officials wrapped up a weekend visit to the city.
The visit is part of the center’s efforts to promote domestic travel under the “new disease prevention lifestyle.”
Among the 442 confirmed cases, 423 have been released from isolation and 12 people remain hospitalized, Chen said at the center’s daily news conference, which was held at the Jian Shan Pi Jianganan Resort (尖山埤江南渡假村), the second time it has be held outside of Taipei.
Photo: Wang Han-ping, Taipei Times
Chen joked with reporters that he had not been working while in Tainan, simply enjoying seeing the sights, trying various local delicacies and appreciating the warmth of the residents’ welcome.
Asked if he was worried that people will let their guard down following the center’s announcement on Friday that it would loosen disease-prevention regulations starting from Sunday, including those barring food sampling at supermarkets and night markets, Chen said: “It is inevitable that people might feel more relaxed after June 7, just like people slacken after mid-term exams are over.”
“That is why in April we began promoting a ‘new disease prevention lifestyle,’” he said.
“I have to bore people by repeatedly reminding them every day to wear a mask or keep safe social distances, wash their hands frequently, take their temperature and implement a real-name registration system, because I hope they internalize the ‘new disease prevention lifestyle’ into their daily habits,” the minister said.
While people are excited about easing the regulations, the move will be a big test for the CECC, so the health officials will have to pay more attention to any abnormal signs in local communities, Chen said.
It is likely that by Sunday, no domestic cases would have been reported for 56 consecutive days, or four incubations periods, which specialists agree would make local communities very safe, he said.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
However, there is still concern about more imported cases, so the center would continue to carefully monitor prevention measures at the borders.
Given the enthusiasm shown by the large crowds that greeted Chen wherever he went in Tainan — so many people were on hand on Guohua Street (國華街) he could barely make headway — reporters asked if such visits might hamper efforts to promote a “new disease prevention lifestyle.”
The main principle of this lifestyle is that people can choose between practicing social distancing or wearing a mask, so everyone can choose what they feel is suitable for them, Chen said.
After leaving Tainan yesterday, Chen and his team stopped in Taichung to plug domestic tourism before heading back to Taipei.
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