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Taiwan has no immediate plans to raise COVID-19 alert: health minister

ROC Central News Agency

09/08/2021 06:53 PM

Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) The Taiwan government does not plan to elevate the nationwide Level 2 COVID-19 alert at this time, despite a growing cluster of domestic infections in New Taipei, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Wednesday.

The goal right now is to control the spread of the disease, Chen said at a press briefing of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which he heads.

On Wednesday, the CECC reported seven new COVID-19 cases in the cluster linked to a preschool in New Taipei's Banqiao District, which brought the total to 23, with 10 of them caused by the Delta variant of the virus, while the genome sequencing results on the other 13 were still pending.

Chen said the CECC will consider raising the COVID-19 alert if there is a new wave of the disease, or if the current cluster balloons out of control.

The first cases in the cluster linked to the preschool and a residential complex in Banqiao were reported on Sept. 5, starting with a man and his wife, who is a preschool teacher.

Since then, nine children at the preschool, members of their family, and neighbors have tested positive for COVID-19.

CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said the varied viral loads found among the patients in the cluster indicated that the virus may have been circulating in the preschool for a while.

Meanwhile, Chen has urged people in Taiwan to remain vigilant, to get tested for COVID-19, and stay away from school and work if they develop respiratory symptoms, a fever, a change of taste or smell, or diarrhea.

Under Taiwan's four-tier disease control system, the COVID-19 alert was first raised to Level 2 on May 11, when several local infections with unknown sources were recorded.

The alert was elevated to Level 3 nationwide on May 19, four days after the country confirmed more than 100 new cases in a day for the first time.

The COVID-19 alert was lowered to Level 2 on July 27, after the number of daily cases had remained below 100 for a month, and that alert was recently extended for two weeks to Sept. 20.

On Wednesday, Taiwan reported nine new COVID-19 cases -- seven transmitted domestically and two contracted overseas -- bringing its total number to 16,056, with 837 deaths.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chiang Hui-chun and Kay Liu)

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