Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) briefing on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures. At this current stage, the premier said, the key to managing the pandemic is to slow down drastic spikes in cases and ensure that patients with moderate or severe symptoms can obtain appropriate medical care. The Central Epidemic Command Center has updated criteria for the differential admission and treatment of mild and severe COVID-19 cases, and announced that within a week all counties and cities will enact protocols for certain mild or asymptomatic patients to undergo home care. Furthermore, rules regarding transportation methods have been loosened for patients seeking medical treatment or testing during home care, home isolation or home quarantine.
Premier Su noted that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and over 13,000 domestic cases have been recorded since the beginning of the year. However, only five cases have shown severe symptoms and nearly 99.6% of cases have been mild or asymptomatic. The rise in domestic cases is expected to continue. The premier said the principal goal of pandemic management at this time is to moderate the sharp increase in cases to avoid impacting medical treatment capacity and guarantee that patients with moderate or severe symptoms can receive suitable medical care. Medical supply preparedness and effective triage of mild and severe cases are thus crucial.
To complement the launch of the new home care protocol for mild or asymptomatic cases, the MOHW has outlined several telemedicine measures, including a 24-hour emergency medical consultation platform, and delivery of medication to people's homes. More than 1,800 community pharmacies have signed up for the medicine delivery program so far, the premier said.
Regarding rapid test kits, the government is working to ensure the nation has sufficient supplies at stable prices, and will soon allow people to obtain kits through a name-based rationing program. Supplies of antiviral drugs are also adequately prepared to meet needs.
As for vaccines, Taiwan expects to receive more than 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of the month. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 to 11, and on Wednesday the MOHW Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also recommended that children ages 6 to 11 get vaccinated, and that adolescents ages 12 to 17 receive a booster shot.