No plans for early school holidays despite Covid surge
The Ministry of Education (MOE) says there are currently no plans to allow elementary and junior high school students to have an early summer vacation.
Parents, guardians, and teachers are concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic and whether further changes to the semester’s schedule will be implemented. But the MOE says that the 60-day limit for summer vacations will not be changed. The ministry mentioned that updates to school standards adjusting teaching methods, in response to the epidemic for junior and senior high schools, would be similar to elementary schools and kindergartens, which will beannounced after approval from the Central Epidemic Command Center. The MOE and various local government health bureaus have also been enlisted to cooperate for on-campus vaccinations around Taiwan, for children aged 5 to 11.
In related news, Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started reviewing Moderna's application for Emergency Use Authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine used in children aged under the age of 6. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) says that it is working on the process.The FDA has already issued EUAs to the vaccines of Pfizer BNT and Moderna for children aged between 6 and 11.
Many parents have expressed concern over the increase in children suffering serious symptoms of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.One of the patients with a severe infection was a six-year-old boy, who was taken to the emergency room after he developed a high fever of over 42 degrees Celsius and had other symptoms of chills, vomiting, and a seizure. The CECC says he was immediately admitted to an intensive care unit, where he is currently receiving treatment for encephalitis and pneumonia.
His case brings the number of children under the age of 10 who have developed severe infections to 15, of whom five have passed away. Doctors are advising parents not to send their children to kindergartens if flu-like symptoms occur, and monitor the children's condition closely.
In other Covid news, a local medical device manufacturer is waiting for the FDA to issue Emergency Use Authorization for its rapid Covid-19 test.TaiDoc Technology says it plans to launch both nasal and saliva test kits and has completed clinical trials for both. The company says it started developing saliva rapid tests in August last year, but as the coronavirus situation in Taiwan eased off, the efforts were put on hold.
After health authorities opened for the development of saliva tests last month, TaiDoc resumed the work and has conducted the trials in Taiwan and the United States.The company says it's already producing 600,000 test kits a day, and this number can reach 1 million a day in mid-June. Taiwan currently only has one saliva rapid test available, and it's imported from South Korea.
Yesterday, the CECC reported 89,352 new local cases of Covid-19. Of the new domestic cases, the highest number was reported in New Taipei City, with 21,000, while Taoyuan had 10,000, and Taipei City, Taichung, and Kaohsiung each reported more than 9,000.
The CECC also reported 76 new deaths from the disease, 31 of which occurred in unvaccinated people. Meanwhile, in light of several recent cases of COVID-related deaths in young children, the CECC says 56 hospitals in Taiwan are now set to implement a “green channel” for medical services, to expedite medical care for children while 27 hospitals have expanded their responsibilities in emergency care, to assist with moderate and severe cases of Covid-19 in children.