The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced relaxed home isolation rules for people who had come into close contact with Taiwanese travelers who test positive for COVID-19.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that a previously reported case (No. 939) has sparked public concern, and the center believes that similar cases might be detected, so it needs to clarify related standard procedures.
Reported by the center on Wednesday, case No. 939 is a Taiwanese woman in her 50s who permanently lives in the US. She tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 21 last year, but later tested negative twice on Nov. 14 and 18 last year. She returned to Taiwan on Nov. 27 last year and did not display any symptoms during 14 days of mandatory home quarantine.
However, she tested positive in a paid test on Monday last week and tested negative in another test the following day, while an antibody test came back positive with IgM and IgG antibodies.
Cases like No. 939, who are believed to be in the later stages of infection and are no longer infectious, but test positive in Taiwan, would be hospitalized and contact tracing would be launched immediately, Chen said.
“However, we believe the standards for identifying their close contacts and placing them under home isolation should be modified,” he said.
In cases such as No. 939, their close contacts would be put under home isolation while assessing the index case’s condition and infectivity, Chen said.
If the index case is released from isolation while their close contacts are still under home isolation, and if the index case is determined to have not been infectious when they came into contact with them, the contacts would also be released from isolation, but they would be subject to another 14 days of self-health management, he said.
Asked about progress in the center’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, Chen said Taiwan has secured at least 19.81 million doses of vaccines and might obtain up to about 45 million doses if other efforts bear fruit.
Of the secured vaccines, 4.76 million doses were obtained via the COVAX scheme, about 10 million doses from AstraZeneca and about 5.05 million doses from Moderna, he said.
If a pending contract is signed with German vaccine maker BioNTech for about 5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and if two domestic vaccine makers can each provide 10 million doses, then Taiwan would have about 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, he said.
The center is planning to pre-purchase 5 million doses from each of the two local vaccine makers to support domestic vaccine development, Chen said.
The center would sign open contracts with them for another 5 million doses if the production of domestic vaccines becomes stable, he added.
Taiwan is being careful in ensuring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, as the nation has few confirmed cases, and the losses would outweigh the gains if the number of cases involving adverse reactions to vaccines surpass the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Chen said.
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