Taiwan prolongs Covid-19 measures and reports 214 new cases, 26 deaths

·3-min read

Taiwan is to extend its soft lockdown by two weeks until June 28, as its coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of subsiding with 214 new infections and 26 new deaths reported on Monday.

The extension, announced by Premier Su Tseng-chang on Monday during a meeting to discuss the recent outbreak, came after new infection clusters were reported in several cities and counties, including Miaoli in the island’s northwest, where a large number of migrant workers from three electronic firms have tested positive.

“As the pandemic has yet to be stabilised, Premier Su has decided to extend the level 3 alert for two more weeks to June 28, and all schools must also suspend their classes until after the summer vacation,” cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said.

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Taiwan has stopped short of imposing a full lockdown. It raised its alert to the third level of its four-tier system on May 14, initially for two weeks, before extending it to June 14 as infections continued to spread.

A tier 3 alert requires all entertainment and recreational venues, schools and restaurants to suspend operations, and the public to strictly observe rules on social distancing and mask wearing.

People are barred from holding or attending concerts, sports events, weddings, funerals and religious activities, while family or social gatherings involving more than five people indoors or 10 people outdoors are suspended.

Su asked the authorities to deal with the new cluster involving migrant workers in Miaoli and elsewhere on the island. At least 200 migrant workers, including those from the Philippines, employed by three electronics companies in Miaoli were reported to have tested positive for Covid-19.

More than 10,000 people have been infected in Taiwan’s latest outbreak, which began in late April. It has claimed more than 250 lives – about 2.5 per cent of those recorded as being infected, above the global average of 2.16 per cent.

Chang Shan-chun, head of the Central Epidemic Command Centre’s expert advisory panel, said that more than 60 per cent of the deaths involved people aged over 60, and further pathological examinations were needed to investigate another trend.

“There is a growing number of cases in which the fatalities take place in two to three days [after becoming ill],” Chang said, adding that this accounted for 18 per cent of the total death toll.

On Monday, the command centre reported a further 26 fatalities, with 211 new local infections and three new imported cases, taking Taiwan’s total since the pandemic began to 11,491 cases and 286 deaths.

More than 80,000 people are still expected to return to their hometowns for the upcoming long weekend to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival next Monday.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung have called on the public to cut down their movements as much as possible, and avoid travelling for the festival.

Rail officials said that more than 200,000 people had booked train tickets, but about 120,000 of them cancelled their reservations after appeals by Tsai and Chen.

The spike in cases has had a pronounced impact on business sentiment and service industries, according to Wu Ming-hui, a director at cabinet-level policy-planning agency the National Development Council.

“The prolonged measures will continue to affect a number of service industries in Taiwan, including leisure, recreation, tourism, food and beverage, and transport, which have been the hardest hit since the outbreak started,” Wu said.

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