Government orders more rapid test kits as Covid cases spike
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has confirmed 874 local cases of Covid-19.This marks the second consecutive day of record high cases after the CECC reported 744 new domestically transmitted cases on Wednesday, which was the highest number recorded in a single day since the pandemic began in early 2020.
The CECC says New Taipei recorded 360 infections, while Taipei saw 164 infections.Taoyuan recorded 87 and Keelung recorded 60. The centre says Taiwan also recorded 108 imported infections. The CECC says none of the cases were severe.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Taiwan has recorded just over 1,600 Covid-19 cases in children. None of these were severe cases, and none resulted in death.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung also announced changes to procedures to treat Covid-19 patients.
Chen says major hospitals will focus on treating mild-to-severe cases, and those over the age of 70.
Such patients who do not require in-hospital care may be diverted to quarantine centres and hotels, which will also house those under the age of 70, who experience only mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic.
And patients under the age of 65 andover meet certain criteria may undergo quarantine at home, in cities where such a programme is available.
To meet rising demand, Premier Su Tseng-chang has announced that the cabinet is ready to requisition 40 million Covid-19 rapid tests every month.
Su says the plan will begin today after opposition KMT lawmakers called on the government to regulate the supply of rapid tests and keep prices down, citing an increased need for such tests due to a rise in domestic cases.
Health Minister Chen Shi-chung said yesterday that people will still be able to buy rapid tests at places where they are currently sold, and tests will also be handed out in areas deemed as high-risk for COVID-19, such as New Taipei, Taipei and Taoyuan.
The market price for the rapid coronavirus tests range from NT$1,000 for four kits to NT$1,800 for five.Lawmakers have said that the price is too high compared to the international average.
In related news, a local manufacturer of Covid-19 rapid tests has announced that it is suspending exports of its product.TaiDoc Technology says the move is in accordance with the government's new rapid test requisition programme, which aims to procure 40 million tests per month for domestic use.
The medical device manufacturer says its production volume is enough to fulfill demand in Taiwan, and it is currently reviewing internal costs and sales models to find ways to lower the cost of its rapid test kits.
The CECC has stated that it hopes to keep the price of at-home rapid tests to NT$200 per kit or lower, as part of efforts to manage the spread of Covid-19.