CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to reexamine need for isolation in mild COVID-19 cases

Taiwan is turning the focus of its COVID-19 response to future vaccine rollouts and the possible lifting of mandatory isolation for infected individuals, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.

With Taiwan's mask mandates set to be eased to exclude most indoor settings starting Feb. 20, the CECC will start looking at drafting a plan for COVID-19 vaccine rollouts this year and revising existing protocols, said CECC chief Victor Wang (???) in Taipei on Monday.

Wang said the shift comes in the wake of reduced fluctuations in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases in the three waves of infections in Taiwan since early 2022, and the trend toward governments taking less active roles in combating the disease.

Once COVID-19 is stable, Wang said, the CECC will consult its panel of experts on plans to reduce or eliminate isolation for individuals with mild COVID-19 infections, as current models show the disease's spread to be gradually easing.

He cited the example of Singapore, which has decided to handle the disease as endemic, effective Monday.

Taiwan most recently adjusted its approach on quarantining people confirmed to have COVID-19 on Nov. 14, 2022, when the isolation period was reduced to five days.

Since then, people with mild infections have been allowed to isolate at home, with the isolation period automatically ending after five days without the need to show a negative test result.

The CECC also plans to modify its reporting of the disease, moving away from the close monitoring of infections across the country so more attention can be given to efforts to keep COVID-19 infections from developing into serious cases, Wang said.

Of the 9,742,503 COVID-19 cases contracted in Taiwan and reported between Jan. 1, 2022 and Feb. 12, 2023, 99.53 percent involved people who had no symptoms or symptoms that were relatively mild.

The percentage of those requiring closer medical attention or hospitalization was 0.47 percent of all cases, CECC data showed.

Meanwhile, the CECC will discuss with Taiwan's city and county governments the role for COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, while continuing to encourage those eligible to get vaccines or boosters.

Data released Monday showed that 94 percent of the population in Taiwan has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including 1,306 people who were just given their first shot over the past weekend.

Meanwhile, 76.2 percent have gotten a booster shot, and 22.6 percent have received two extra doses, according to the CECC.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel