(TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan)—COVID cases rose rapidly in Taiwan after last month’s Mid-Autumn Festival, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on Sept. 13.
According to the CDC, the total number of cases rose from 5,580,027 to 5,707,688, an increase of almost 2.3% percent in just three days. The government did not issue a new alert to the current COVID protocol, but encouraged residents to live with the virus instead.
“The speed is faster than we expected,” said Chien-Chang Lee, a clinical professor at the Department of Emergency Medicine of National Taiwan University Hospital. “The pandemic must be more family-oriented because many people would take a family trip during the holiday, so there would be more infections between family members,” he added, explaining why there may have been a spike in cases over the holiday that families typically observe together.
On May 15, 2021, the Taiwan CDC implemented a level-three epidemic alert requiring that residents wear masks at all times outdoors. Indoor gatherings were limited to five or fewer people, outdoor gatherings were capped at 10 people, and all places of business and public venues were closed, with the exception of essential services. The alert was lifted on July 23 retaining the mask-wearing requirement.
Since the peak of the pandemic last year, Taiwan’s CDC has shifted its approach from virus prevention to adaptation. Although Taiwan’s weekly COVID confirmed cases are continuously increasing, the government has not signaled that it plans to return to the level-three epidemic alert.
“Many restaurants can’t withstand the ban on indoor dining once more,” said Shih-chung Chen, the commander of Taiwan’s CDC. “The old standards no longer apply because our society and economy cannot be tightened any longer.”
Despite the increase in cases, the situation is not as dire as it was last year in Taiwan. Chen said that 87% of Taiwan’s population has received three doses of the vaccine, which has greatly reduced the incidence of infection, serious illness and death.
He added that the fourth-dose of COVID vaccine is now available to seniors over the age of 50, and NRICM101, a traditional Chinese medicine developed by the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine, is free to seniors over the age of 65.