Taiwan Is Abandoning Its Zero-COVID Strategy in Favor of a ‘New Model’ of Coronavirus Containment

Taiwan Reports Record Cases as Covid-Free Status Crumbles
Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg via Getty Images Pedestrians wearing protective masks cross a street at a shopping district in Taipei, Taiwan, on Saturday, April 16, 2022.

Why Taiwan put off moving away from zero-COVID

Taiwan has successfully fended off COVID-19 outbreaks in the past. The island banned flights from across the strait in January 2020, immediately after the virus was detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Swift tracing of close contacts, mass testing, and a centralized mask distribution system helped Taiwan avoid a lockdown, save for some soft curbs a year ago to control an outbreak of the Alpha variant.

Last summer, Taiwan’s COVID-19 response was again put to the test in the face of hundreds of new infections. At the time, the island was struggling to source COVID-19 vaccines and only 3% of its eligible population was vaccinated. New arrivals were required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, and strict contact-tracing policies were imposed on restaurants, stores and other businesses. Taiwan’s COVID-19 cases ballooned to around

Taipei is easing COVID-19 curbs even as its daily cases are rising, in a strategy radically different from Beijing’s zero-tolerance policy that has shut down many Chinese cities and sent the economy into a tailspin.

On May 5, Taiwan recorded more than 30,000 new COVID-19 infections—crossing that daily threshold for the first time since the pandemic began. The current wave of infections looks to get worse for the island of 23 million, which has so far registered nearly 232,400 cases—some 215,000 since January—and 886 fatalities.

Daily caseloads are expected to rise even further because of the Omicron variant. Health minister Chen Shih-chung said earlier that Taiwan was on track to record between up to 100,000 new infections daily, much more than the initial projection of 45,000.
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Yet, in the face of this spike, the government has signaled a shift in the pandemic strategy it has been following for two years, away from virus suppression characterized by draconian travel restrictions, mask-wearing mandates, and fastidious contact tracing. A month into the launch of a “new Taiwanese model” of COVID-19 containment, asymptomatic and mild cases are being isolated at home, save for infected children. Close contacts need only be quarantined for three days instead of the earlier 10. Quarantine for arrivals will be cut down from 10 to just seven days.

Read More: How Hong Kong Became China’s Biggest COVID Problem

Premier Su Tseng-chang said this new approach isn’t exactly living with COVID-19, as the virus “would not be allowed to spread unchecked.” But prevention of the virus from spreading is to be balanced with reopening the economy and allowing people to live normally, he emphasized. There would be no stringent lockdowns, Su told reporters on May 1. Health officials are to focus on minimizing severe cases and maintaining “effective …read more

Source:: Time – World

      

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