Whether Taiwan reopens its borders would depend on the nation’s vaccination coverage rate and the COVID-19 situation in other countries, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said yesterday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a 70 percent first-dose vaccination coverage and 30 percent two-dose coverage as part of its consideration, Shih told a media briefing following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
In spite of a relatively stable COVID-19 situation in Taiwan, and calls from foreign missions and businesses in the country to allow more international travelers, the government is maintaining strict border control measures.
Since March last year, Taiwan has banned most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, and required those who do enter the country to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine.
The government further tightened its border restrictions in May in the wake of a surge in domestic COVID-19 infections.
Exceptions to the visitor ban can only be made in emergencies or for humanitarian reasons, but travelers have to apply in advance to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) for permission to enter the country.
As of yesterday, about 5.69 million people, or 24.3 percent of the population, had been fully vaccinated, with 15.2 million people, or 65 percent of the population, having received one dose, CECC data showed.
Separately yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that mixing certain brands for first and second doses would be allowed for all age groups after the 13th round of COVID-19 vaccinations, depending on the availability of vaccine supplies.
The ministry’s report, submitted to the Legislative Yuan, said that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had decided in July that people in categories 1 to 3 of its vaccination priority list who were inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine for their dose could receive an mRNA vaccine — Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna — for their second dose.
The report said that in the 13th round, the BioNTech vaccine could be provided as a second dose to those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine more than 10 weeks ago, to increase the nation’s vaccination coverage rate.
Chen said that the Moderna vaccine would only be available for mixed vaccination for those in the first category, while BioNTech could be available to all age groups if deliveries are steady and supply is adequate.
The nation yesterday reported two new imported COVID-19 cases and zero local infections or deaths from the disease.
One of the imported cases was a Taiwanese in her 20s who returned on Oct. 6 from the US, and the other was a Taiwanese man in his 60s, a resident of Myanmar, who arrived on Sept. 24.
To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 16,349 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early last year, of which 14,585 were domestic infections.
Additional reporting by CNA
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