Report in August 2021

Update on Covid-19 Situation in Taiwan

Liao Guan-Ru, Tainan City, Taiwan

Present statistics (As of 9th August 2021)

  • a) Total confirmed cases were 15,790 cases (updated on 9th Aug, 2021).
  • b) Newly confirmed cases on that day were 8 cases; 4 local cases and 4 imported cases.
  • c) Active cases on that date were 1480 cases.
  • d) Cases in ICU was not revealed on the Taiwan Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) website.
  • e) Total death cases were 813 cases.
  • f) New death cases on that day were 4 cases.

In my opinion, Taiwan is facing a low vaccination rate (1st dose is 36.95% and fully vaccinated is only 2.14%). Especially, available vaccines provide less protection to new variants. Taiwan may face more and more virus leak from quarantine hotels so that increasing vaccine administration rate is a top priority.

Thank you, Japan, for giving us 3 million AstraZeneca vaccines. What a precious gift in time of need.

Countermeasures taken in Taiwan aim to prevent people gathering and trace people where they go. Shutting down specific places to limit people from being crowded seems to be effective to control the spread of the virus. At places including hospitals, public transportation, supermarkets, schools, exhibitions, religious places, people are asked to wear face mask to enter since December 2020. Since the COVID outbreak in mid-May 2021 in Taiwan, these places were shut down except for hospitals, public transportation and retailing. Although restaurants were not asked to close, dining in was banned.

Another countermeasure is to trace where people go. Everyone is asked to scan a QR code to trace their footprint. Scanning QR code will send a message by your phone to CDC showing the place and time you enter the premise so that CDC can trace and identify potential contacts.

Scanning QR code is necessary to enter.
QR code outside 7-11 convenient store.

In July 2020, Taiwan government released a special currency called triple stimulus voucher. Everyone paid 4,000 NT$ at first in return for 12000 NT$ in vouchers. This policy aimed to boost financial activities. After the outbreak in 2021, the government gave financial supports to those who lived in poverty (do not have any social insurance) and tax exemption. Income tax payment was postponed for 2 months. Further, electricity bills of business use are frozen to decrease their expenses. Loans with low interest are also available for industries to go through tough time. Small to middle enterprises are eligible as related to medical insurances, tourism, farming, art and transportation…etc. are eligible.

In Taiwan, only level 3 alert (highest level so far) is taken and different from other than lockdown measurement implemented worldwide.

Indoor gathering is limited to 5 people during level 3 alert. People going against this regulation will be fined by 240,000 to 1,200,000 NT$.

Level 3 alert started on 19th May 2021 in Taiwan when 275 local cases were reported. On 27th July 2021, restriction was lifted slightly to level 2 alert with re-opening of specific indoor places under regulations.

Taiwan government took “soft measurement” to restrict people’s activity. Only indoor space mentioned above was temporarily closed. Other essential industries remained unaffected.

Frenzy buying happened when the situation became worse (before level 3 alert was announced). Suddenly, face masks and disinfectant were sold out. In fact, Taiwan never underwent any lockdown. Thanks to Taiwanese self-discipline, COVID epidemic is under controlled in 2 months.

Empty square in front of Taichung train station during level 3 alert.
Few people in Taichung train station.

Household goods such as toilet paper, cans, and instant noodles are most popular because people won’t go out as possible as they can.

Few instant noodles are sold out in a supermarket.

People who don’t wear face mask at public places or indoor places such convenient stores will be fined 12,000 to 60,000 NT$.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to diagnosed COVID-19. COVID-19 antigen self-test kits are available to the public. We can buy them at supermarkets, convenient stores, and pharmacies for routine examination. People need to pay 14,000 NT$ for PCR test for specific purposes such as going abroad. If someone is suspected to be infected, then no charge for PCR.

Alpha variant SARS-CoV2 virus is now widespread in Taiwan. Fortunately, only 15 cases of delta variant were reported and under controlled well.

Vaccination rate (1st dose is 36.95% and fully vaccinated is only 2.14%; updated at 10th Aug) is not high in Taiwan due to limited stock of vaccines. AstraZeneca and Moderna are approved to be administered. In the future (late September), BNT vaccine will be another option. Vaccines from Taiwanese company, Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation are expected to be available in late August though debates remain whether this vaccine provide protection to COVID-19 or not.

NRICM101 is the only traditional medicine approved to treat COVID-19.

NRICM101 comprises 10 herbs to treat patient with no clinical sign or early onset.

NGO in Wanhua, Taipei, where outbreak started gave the homeless living goods and face masks to prevent them from being infected since they are not easy to trace. Also, as business activities halted, the homeless found it hard to find part time job to support their living. NGO raised donation for them, trying to lessen the social discrimination against them.

Because schools and colleges were closed, most of students took online classes. For those who don’t have internet or computer, schools are open for them to continue their study as a compromise measurement. (I have left college so I can’t answer the question properly.)

Although I hope COVID-19 would never happen, the good thing is that the situation in Taiwan is not as critical as other countries worldwide. For me, the good thing is that I have more and more time to spend with my family. After colleges were closed, I moved back home. The bad thing is my study plan was disturbed and postponed many times. Fortunately, I can now go to Australia to study PhD this September.