Border controls would not be loosened, but domestic COVID-19 restrictions could be eased gradually after Monday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center said yesterday, as it reported 15 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and one death.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 15 local infections were eight males and seven females aged from under five to over 80, and seven tested positive during isolation or upon ending isolation.
New Taipei City reported 11 cases, followed by Taoyuan with three cases and Taipei with one, Chen said.
The infection sources of nine cases had been identified, while six cases remained unclear and contact tracing was ongoing, center data showed.
The person who died was a man in his 80s who had an underlying health condition.
The number of local infections has been falling, with fewer than 10 cases with unclear infection sources being reported for several days, and fewer than five clusters a week, indicating that the COVID-19 situation is coming under control, so it is very possible that the level 3 alert could be lowered on Tuesday next week, Chen said.
However, in view of spiking numbers of cases after many other nations lifted their lockdowns, the center would gradually loosen the restrictions step by step, as if “going down a gentle slope,” he said, adding that the restrictions might have to be tightened again if the situation worsens.
Asked if certain businesses would be allowed to reopen if the alert level is lowered, Chen said that businesses that cannot comply with the mask mandate, social distancing and other preventive measures would not be allowed to reopen until later.
“Even if the COVID-19 alert level is lowered, wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands frequently would continue to be required for a long time,” he said.
Asked whether tighter quarantine requirements for airline crew members are to be implemented from tomorrow, Chen said that there has been a surge in cases in many nations due to more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“Under such a global situation, border control measures can only become tighter, rather than being loosened,” he said.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is deputy head of the center, said that starting from tomorrow, airline crew members who have visited high-risk areas — Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Peru and the UK — would be subject to a 14-day quarantine at a hotel or an airline dormitory when returning.
They would also be required to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test upon ending quarantine, he said.
Airline crew members who visited other areas and received their second dose of vaccine at least 14 days previously would need to perform seven days of enhanced self-health management after returning to Taiwan, and be tested upon arrival and on the seventh day, he added.
Meanwhile, starting from today, moving migrant workers from one work location to another, under the same employer, would be allowed, the center said.
However, they must have worked at one location for at least 60 days before they can be moved, Chen Tsung-yen said, adding that they must also present a negative test result within three days of applying to the Ministry of Labor to work at another location.
Performances of traditional Taiwanese puppetry and traditional Taiwanese opera would now be conditionally permitted during the level 3 alert, Chen Tsung-yen said.
The performances can only be held in an open space, but an audience would not be allowed and performers must wear a mask during the show, he said.
Taiwanese opera performers with a negative test result within the seven days before a show would be allowed to take off their masks during a performance, he added.
The center yesterday also reported six imported COVID-19 cases, people who arrived from Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Poland, Denmark and the US.
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