CORONAVIRUS/Health minister gives no date for ending of COVID-19 border restrictions

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (???) gave no definitive timeline for ending COVID-19 border restrictions when quizzed by lawmakers Friday, stating vaccination rates and medical preparedness would play a decisive role.

Chen told lawmakers during a Legislative Yuan session the government would consider four factors when deciding when to lift border restrictions: progress of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, face mask use, the capacity of the health care system to cope with a surge in infections, and supplies of medications use to treat COVID-19.

However, Chen did not provide further details or targets with regards to the four factors.

The current border restrictions -- which only allow citizens, residents and those with special permission to enter Taiwan, subject to a 14-day quarantine stay -- were introduced on May 19 amid a surge of local COVID-19 cases and the international spread of the Delta variant.

Since Taiwan began its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on March 22, 58.27 percent of the country's 23.45 million people have received at least one dose, while 16.52 percent are fully vaccinated, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Friday.

To date, Taiwan has only recorded 168 Delta variant cases, with 43 classed as local infections, CDC Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun (???) said at a COVID-19 press briefing Friday.

An outbreak beginning in mid-May consisted mainly of Alpha variant infections, resulting in 14,417 locally transmitted cases and 833 deaths. May 15 marked the first time the country reported more than 100 cases in a single day, according to CDC data.

On Friday, Taiwan reported 12 new COVID-19 cases, all of which were imported, bringing the total to 16,283.

It was the ninth consecutive day of zero new local infections.

The daily number of domestic cases has stayed almost exclusively in the single digits since Aug. 30.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel