Testing rules eased for arriving passengers

01 June, 2022

Courtesy of ICRT


The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) says all passengers arriving in Taiwan from overseas will now have saliva samples collected at the airport, rather than be subject to a nasal swab, for PCR testing, starting from today.


Moreover, all new arrivals at international airports no longer need to wait for their PCR test results for Covid-19 at airports. They just need to have their saliva samples taken, and then leave the airport and head for their destination to start home quarantine under the rule of "one person one household" for 7 days. If the saliva PCR test returns a positive result, then the traveller's status will switch to home care. If the positive case is staying in an epidemic-prevention hotel, he or she will be sent to a hospital.


Health Minister Chen Shi-chung says Taiwan in mid-January began testing travellers arriving in Taiwan from high-risk regions and countries right after they landed at the airport. He says so far 149,000 people have been tested with a positivity rate averaging at 4.2%. The minister says medical personnel did a good job and now that the positivity rate has dropped to 1% with nearly all customs workers having taken the booster vaccine shots, it's time to switch to a saliva test.


According to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, the move is aimed at speeding-up the arrival process, as the less invasive saliva-based tests reduce the amount of time people need to queue up waiting for the tests. Chen says long lines of people waiting for nasal swabs increases the chances of cluster infections to increase. However, passengers are required not to drink or eat anything in the period between landing and taking the test to ensure the quality of the sample.


The CECC is also adjusting regulations covering the hospital discharge of Covid-19 patients from today. The move is part of efforts to free up medical capacity, as the number of cases involving severe and moderate infections continues to rise.


From today, those hospitalised with severe infections can be discharged with their doctors' permission if they have a PCR test that shows a CT value of between 27 and 30 and it has been at least 15 days since they first tested positive or developed symptoms of the virus. Severe infections are defined as those that require hospitalisation in an intensive care unit.


Meanwhile, patients who have been hospitalized with "moderate" infections can leave hospital after seven days without a PCR test as long as their symptoms have abated or disappeared.


Public health workers say the decision to adjust the hospital regulations comes as doctors have been reporting large numbers of cases where patients stay in hospital for two to three weeks even when they are no longer contagious.


This comes as CECC reported another 80,700 new coronavirus cases on Monday. Of that total, just 49 were imported cases, while the rest were domestic infections. A majority of the new cases were reported in New Taipei, with 14,372. That was followed by Taichung with 10,586, and Kaohsiung with 10,380 cases.


Figures show that 82 previously reported cases had since developed severe infections, while 108 other patients had developed moderate symptoms. Ninety new coronavirus-related deaths were reported. The CECC says those patients ranged in age from their 40s to 90s. They included 86 who had chronic illnesses or other severe diseases, while 44 of them had not been vaccinated at all.


The latest deaths bring the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities here in Taiwan since the pandemic began to 2,255, of which 1,402 were reported this year.


In other Covid news, the CECC says there's been a relatively high coronavirus vaccine uptake among children aged from between 5-11 since the rollout last week of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. According to health officials, as of Tuesday, 26.6% of children aged

between 5-11 in Taipei had received one dose of a vaccine and 31% of children in that age bracket had gotten a shot in New Taipei. In Taoyuan, the vaccination rate stands at 26.7%, 38.9% of 5-11 year-olds in Taichung had gotten a shot while in Tainan 44.8% had received one dose of a vaccine and in Kaohsiung the figure stands at 45.9%.


Although the government began offering the Moderna vaccine for children aged between 6-11 in early May, many parents had been waiting for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children. Figures show that prior to last week's rollout of the Pfizer shot, only 16.9% of children aged from 6-11 islandwide had received a coronavirus vaccine shot.

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