Restrictions ease, even amidst record case counts . . .
Yesterday, Taiwan reported a new daily record of 50,828 COVID-19 cases. Less than two weeks ago, the island recorded a daily case count over 10,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite this surge, the Central Epidemic Command Centre continued to ease COVID-19 restrictions, QR check-in protocols, and quarantine regulations. For instance, yesterday, mandatory quarantine length for inbound travelers to Taiwan was reduced from 10 days to seven and those with mild symptoms can now isolate at home instead of in hospitals.
‘New Taiwan model’ . . .
Taiwan’s new model for combatting the virus suggests that it is moving from completely stopping the spread of the virus to managing it. Taiwan’s Health Minister, Chen Shih-chung, said that the “main goal now is harm mitigation.” Minister Chen said last month that he hopes to open borders to countries with similar infection levels in July so as to not lag too far behind the rest of the world. Officials say that 79 per cent of its population has been vaccinated and 40 million test kits have been secured. However, for Taiwan’s 23 million residents, rapid COVID-19 tests remain scarce and difficult to access and many are left confused regarding testing measures.
Public responses to come . . .
Taiwan and China are both experiencing drastic increases of COVID-19 cases, yet they are taking different approaches. The citywide lockdown in Shanghai has confined millions of residents indoors for weeks, and some face severe food supply shortages. “Lockdown trauma” testimonies from Shanghai have received significant attention in Taiwan. Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang stated that Taiwan “will not lock down the country and cities as cruelly as China.” A public opinion poll from last month suggests the Taiwanese public is relatively split on the issue of abandoning zero-COVID policies. About half the population may not be prepared for living with the virus, since Taiwan’s cases and death rate have remained extremely low over the last two years. Now, the responsibility of convincing the public that the new model is a good idea will fall on the government.
- The New York Times: Under lockdown in China
- Nikkei Asia: Taiwan edges away from zero-COVID policy despite record cases
- The Washington Post: With an eye on Shanghai’s woes, Taiwan moves to live with the virus