CORONAVIRUS/Free COVID-19 rapid tests again available for children, seniors

The government will again make COVID-19 rapid test kits available for free to Taiwan's children and seniors starting Tuesday and to vulnerable individuals starting Monday in the latest round of its free rapid test program.

Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said at the CECC's Monday press briefing that the latest round of the program was initiated because respiratory diseases are more common during winter months.

The new allotment of free tests will help meet the increased need for COVID-19 tests during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, which runs from Jan. 20 to 29, and enable people to test for new COVID-19 variants following China's reopening of its borders, he said.

According to Chuang, the seventh round of free rapid test kits for children born on or after Sept. 2, 2016 and the fifth round of free tests for seniors born in or before 1958 will be held from Jan. 10 to Feb. 28.

Under the program, children and seniors who have national health insurance cards (NHI) are entitled to one pack of five rapid tests per person.

The CECC noted, however, that rapid tests cannot be used on children under the age of two, and that families with children in that age group could claim free rapid test kits under the program for a parent's use instead.

Families who claim the free tests will still be eligible to buy another pack of five rapid tests per person under the government's rapid test rationing program for all NHI card and Alien Resident Certificate holders, the CECC said.

CECC head Victor Wang (???) said, meanwhile, that families with children and seniors who did not claim their free rapid test kits from round six for children and round four for seniors by Monday will forfeit those COVID-19 tests.

At the press conference, Chuang also announced that people with mental or physical disabilities or who are in low income brackets will be able to get four free rapid tests between Monday and Feb. 15 by providing proper documentation of their status.

The distribution of those free tests will be managed by local governments, the CECC said, estimating that 1.8 million individuals can benefit from the program.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel