Taiwan has extended its level 3 alert over a continuing Covid-19 outbreak, reporting 281 new local cases today, and a further six deaths.
The largest group of new cases – who were tested yesterday – were again in New Taipei city (155), while 49 were in the capital, Taipei. Two new cases detected in Taitung means there is now community transmission of Covid-19 in every county of Taiwan.
The whole of Taiwan is currently on the third of a four-tier alert system, and all schools were ordered closed until the end of the month. The CECC said both measures were being extended until 14 June, and said all school graduation ceremonies should be cancelled or held online.
It has previously said a level 4 alert – bringing a strict lockdown – would not be triggered until there were 14 consecutive days of more than 100 cases, with 50% untraced. While it appears on track to potentially reach the 14 days threshold, the number of untraced cases is below 50%.
At the daily press conference the central epidemic command centre also announced 261 additional cases from the past week, including 155 in Taipei, as it gets through a backlog of thousands of tests. The updated daily totals revealed that Taiwan’s daily case numbers last week were mostly in the 400s – up to 510 on 17 June.
Chen Shi-chung, the health and welfare minister, said two million doses of vaccines were expected to arrive by the end of June and another 10 million by the end of August. Taiwan has so far only received 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca for its 24 million population. He wasn’t exactly clear on where the doses are coming from, but later said a locally-developed vaccine, which is currently in trial stage but is being fast tracked, was included in the 10 million.
Taiwan has orders with Covax, Moderna, and Pfizer.
“We hope all the shipments will arrive on time and urge that Covax will be free from the impact of ‘other factors’ so our vaccine will be right on time,” he said, appearing to allude to Chinese interference – an accusation Taiwan has levelled against Beijing over some vaccine supplies, but one that China denies, saying it has offered to send vaccines to Taiwan.