Hidden Covid cases could spike
Health minister Chen Shih-chung says if the number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases rises to 130,000 or 150,000, the number of cases going undetected will likely increase "significantly."
The statement comes after the health minister told lawmakers that the number of new daily cases will rise to between 54,000 and 102,000 by 11 May.Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) spokesman Zhuang Ren-xiang says the range is based on an assumed R number of 2, which works out to around 75,000 new infections by next Wednesday. The R number is the number of people that one infected person passes a virus to, on average.
Meanwhile, the health minister is also warning that based on the experiences of other countries, the number of severe cases and deaths from the coronavirus will rise at a two to three-week lag behind a spike in cases.Data shows that as of 3 May, the CECC had recorded 173,942 cases and 876 deaths. Health officials say that is equivalent to a death rate of around 0.5%, with people aged 60 and above accounting for 88% of the total fatalities.
This comes as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported 30,035 local Covid cases, 71 imported ones and five deaths on Thursday. The CECC says New Taipei still recorded the highest caseload of 10,122, followed by Taipei's 6,422.
CECC physician Luo Yi-jun says the youngest one of today's five deaths, a man in his 20s, had had a long history of head injuries and was on a ventilator. He was also unvaccinated. Luo says three others were cancer patients aged between 50s and 70s, while the fourth one had suffered from neurological illnesses.
While 73 peoplesuffered from moderate to severe symptoms, Health Minister Chen Shi-chung says the overall ratio of these patients has stayed fairly stable, with over 99.5% of the positive cases being asymptomatic or having mild symptoms.
In related news, Taipei city is getting ready to set up another drive-through PCR clinic for likely Covid-19 cases in Wenshan District in southern Taipei.Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je says a similar drive-through clinic at Beitou Shilin Technology Park, launched yesterday, has proved to be popular and effective.But with waiting vehicles stretching hundreds of meters, Ko says it's obvious that the city needs to increase the capacity for such services.
The makeshift clinic provides PCR screening for those who have tested positive using a rapid test, and people don't need to leave their vehicles should they have symptoms.The clinic is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday and can perform up to 1,200 PCR tests a day. Individuals are advised to make an appointment in advance and bring their self-administered specimen with them.
Deputy Taipei Mayor Huang Shan-shan says in addition, the city has also set up PCR test sites at 11 hospital's emergency rooms across the city to provide testing service for free. They include Taipei City Hospital, Wanfang Hospital, and Tri-service Hospital. Huang says the city's total capacity for handling PCR tests will soon increase to 10,000 a day.