Taipei, New Year’s Eve festivities across Taiwan will proceed as scheduled, despite a report on Tuesday of the country’s first domestic COVID-19 case since April 12, because the source of infection has already been determined, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).
The decision was made at an emergency meeting of representatives from the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and central and local governments late Tuesday, with the aim of assessing whether to scale down or cancel the upcoming festivities in the wake of the newly confirmed domestic case.
On Tuesday, a local contact of a pilot from New Zealand who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday tested positive for the virus, the first domestic case reported in Taiwan in 253 days, according to the CECC.
Speaking at a press conference, Chen, who is also the CECC head, said that while the planned celebrations will take place as usual, event organizers will be required to provide sufficient hand sanitizers at venues and increase the frequency of disinfecting venue restrooms.
Event holders must also draw up medical responses as precautionary measures against COVID-19, the minister said.
In addition, apart from designated areas at the event venues, no food or beverages shall be sold, Chen went on, adding that all event participants will be required to have their temperatures taken and ensure that their hands are sanitized before entering the venues.
Indoor event organizers will have to keep a record of all those who partake in the various activities, including their full names and contact information, Chen said.
It will also be mandatory, Chen noted, that all event participants have a mobile phone with them and switched on at all times during the events to ensure that they receive coronavirus information and prevention protocols disseminated by the health authorities.
Participants will have to wear a surgical mask at the events to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, the minister emphasized.
According to Chen, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who are under self-health management will not be allowed entry to the events.
All decisions reached at the meeting will be officially made public Wednesday, Chen added.
Prior to the press conference, Chen said it is advisable for people to stay at home as a precaution against catching the virus, given the recent domestic case.
Asked if the newly confirmed domestic case poses a risk of community outbreaks, Chen said the situation will only be clear once the ongoing contact tracing investigation has been completed.
The six special municipalities in Taiwan — Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung — will all hold New Year’s Eve celebrations.
To date, Taiwan has recorded 770 cases of COVID-19, 675 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 632 have recovered, 131 are in the hospital and seven have died, according to CECC data.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel