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Greater border vigilance, community prevention, vaccination, cautious opening as COVID outbreak remains a threat

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Following a briefing on Thursday by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on this week's COVID-19 developments in Taiwan, Premier Su Tseng-chang said that the latest outbreak continues to stabilize as the virus is brought under control. Restrictions in certain locations have been appropriately relaxed, and the national vaccination rate has risen to 18 percent. Nevertheless, as the pandemic remains serious abroad and has not entirely abated at home, prevention efforts going forward will focus on enhanced border controls, prevention of community infection, higher vaccination coverage, and improved measures to complement the lifting of restrictions.

For the past 21 consecutive days, daily new COVID cases have stayed in the double digits, and in fact dipped below 20 most recently. This stabilization and control compare favorably with other countries. Premier Su cited an article appearing Sunday in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun lauding Taiwan for a second success in subduing the coronavirus amid a vaccine shortage.

Taiwan's success in curbing the spread of the disease despite having a vaccination rate of less than 20 percent can be attributed to three reasons. These include a raft of swift response policies that worked well, the public's confidence in the government and compliance with prevention measures, as well as the utilization of information technology, which saw the development of a system that publicizes movements of confirmed cases and a vaccination appointment platform that may be accessed online and through convenience stores.

As for efforts to raise the vaccination rate, Taiwan has received nearly 9 million vaccine doses so far. Under public-private cooperation, Taiwan expects to have nearly 15 million BioNTech vaccine doses by year-end or next year. The government is also planning to procure at least 30 million doses of Moderna's second-generation vaccine in 2022 and 2023, ensuring a stable and sufficient supply of vaccines.

The pandemic is not yet over, and the COVID situation worldwide remains severe, the premier said. Looking ahead, Taiwan will focus on bolstering border and community controls, raising the vaccination rate, and designing comprehensive reopening measures. He asked all government ministries and agencies to continue working diligently.

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