Border control, school closure easing rules take effect
Travellers from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan's 14 diplomatic allies are now allowed to enter Taiwan visa-free.
The new policy took effect on Monday and comes as booster vaccines shot coverage here in Taiwan is now just above 72% and health authorities are eyeing the rollout of next generation vaccines by the end of this month.
The government has said the "gradual reopening" will promote international social and economic exchanges while also giving due consideration to the coronavirus situation.
However, all entries are still required to follow the "3 4" protocol of three days of quarantine and four days of "self-initiated epidemic prevention, while the weekly cap on arriving travellers remains at 50,000.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has also introduced revised coronavirus regulations for schools. Under those rules, classes will no longer have to switch to distance learning after a student tests positive for and students in the same class who test negative in a rapid test can continue with in-person classes as before.
The Ministry of Education says it will distribute 800,000 rapid tests to schools on a weekly basis, to ensure all students and faculty members have access to tests.
This comes as the CECC yesterday reported 25,583 new coronavirus cases, of which only 237 were imported infections, and 28 new deaths. The epidemic command center has also confirmed 88 new domestic cases of the BA.5 subvariant, of which 45 are in the north, 34 in the centre, eight in the south and one in the east. Those cases bring the total number of patients diagnosed with the domestically transmitted BA.5 Omicron subvariant to 324.
Health officials say 24 previously reported cases have now been listed as severe, while 20 others have developed moderate symptoms.
The deceased ranged in age from their 60s to their 90s. All but four suffered from chronic illnesses or other severe diseases, and 14 were unvaccinated.