Taiwan Adds 286 Local Cases, But Not Ready to Raise Alert Level

Taiwan found another 286 locally transmitted cases of Covid-19, but it’s able to trace the source of most infections and so still doesn’t see a need for a full lockdown.

There were 295 new cases in total, including nine from overseas, and one death, bringing total fatalities to 15, health minister Chen Shih-chung said at a briefing.

“The weekend is coming, and as we are now in alert level 3, people should wear masks, wash hands and keep social distancing. Please avoid going out,” Chen said. “You can watch TV or read books, but please avoid unnecessary outings. You may feel bored, but please bear with it.”

There is speculation, and concern, that a full, level-four lockdown may loom for Taiwan, which was virus-free for most of 2020. Authorities have shut schools, restricted social gatherings, mandated masks at all times when outdoors under level-three rules that were yesterday expanded from Taipei and the surrounding area to the whole island.

“Conditions currently do not support further raising the alert level to four,” Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said earlier Thursday, noting that requirements include an average of 100 new local cases daily, half of which don’t have a clear source. “It’s not the case that half of the new cases are without clear sources.”

Even if both markers are passed, the health minister has wide discretion in stepping up curbs. There have been an average of more than 100 new local cases a day over the past two weeks, mostly from a spike in the past few days.

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