Border controls might be relaxed before August, but priority would be given to business travelers, not tourists in the near term, the CECC said

  • By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter

Daily new cases of COVID-19 might fall below 10,000 by the end of the month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 82,973 new local cases and 124 deaths.

Yesterday’s domestic cases represented a sharp rise from Monday’s 52,992, but that could be attributed in part to the holiday effect, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the CECC, adding that the average number of cases over the four-day Dragon Boat Festival long weekend would be about 66,000.

May 12 was the first time the daily caseload surpassed 60,000, he said, adding that, hopefully, the number of cases would continue to decline.

Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesperson, said the daily caseload is expected to fall below 10,000 by the end of the month, but it is unlikely to fall below 1,000 cases per day.

Asked about easing mask regulations next month and reopening the border in August, Chen said that wearing a mask effectively prevents the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, so the rules might be eased for certain circumstances, but not abolished.

As for relaxing border controls, Chen said it should be earlier than August, as the shortening of the mandatory quarantine period for inbound travelers is being discussed.

The priority for entry is business travelers, so tourists might have to wait a little longer, he said.

Updating on COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that on Monday, 193 more patients had moderate or severe symptoms, the symptoms of 36 patients had worsened to severe symptoms, and 124 patients had died.

Among the deaths, 54 were aged 80 or older, 81 had not received a booster shot and 116 had underlying health conditions, he said, adding that of the eight without underlying health issues, four were unvaccinated and two had only received one dose.

There was also a report about the death of a nine-month-old, Lo said.

The infant had been covered with a blanket and sleeping with her mother when she showed no vital signs and was declared dead at a local hospital.

The infant tested positive for COVID-19, with a cycle threshold value of 33.7, he said.

As it was unclear whether her death resulted from the infection, the cause of death was reported as respiratory failure, he added.

Two children have severe symptoms, Lo said.

A one-year-old with epilepsy became infected and had a high fever and convulsions, but she recovered after being treated with remdesivir and corticosteroids, he said.

Another one-year-old, without any underlying conditions, had a high fever, was coughing and vomiting, and had difficulty breathing and loss of appetite, but she recovered from COVID-19, pneumonia, croup and respiratory distress after being placed on a ventilator and treated with corticosteroids.

As of Monday, 39 children with COVID-19 have had severe symptoms, including 17 with encephalitis and eight with pneumonia, Lo said, adding that 17 children have died, including five with encephalitis and four with pneumonia.

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