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Premier urges continued vigilance amid pandemic still raging abroad

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday said that thanks to immediate action in the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Taiwan established a record of epidemic control and prevention applauded throughout the world. He noted that in the coming days, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar will visit Taiwan to exchange opinions on disease prevention and push forward mutually beneficial cooperation with local experts. Citing expert recommendations to remain vigilant with preventative measures at home due to the serious state of the pandemic abroad, the premier encouraged the people of Taiwan to keep up the good work.

Premier Su's remarks came at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet after a briefing by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the current status of the pandemic and Taiwan's response.

Around 19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 700,000 deaths have been recorded globally, said Premier Su. Many countries have closed borders, locked down cities and even confined residents to their homes. At the same time, Taiwan has earned global recognition—including a top ranking from Bloomberg Economics—for its quick action and advance preparations even before the full extent of the outbreak became clear.

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to send HHS Secretary Azar to Taiwan is an acknowledgement of this success, and an expression of gratitude for Taiwan's ability to donate much-needed masks in the U.S.'s hour of greatest need, Premier Su said. Mr. Azar's visit will provide not only for the exchange of ideas, but even more importantly further advance the bilateral relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of ongoing information sharing as well as disease prevention measures and resources.

Although Taiwan's situation has safely stabilized, the course of the coronavirus is still unpredictable, and the search for a vaccine therefore continues, the premier said. Outside of Taiwan, many countries have also been besieged by worrisome additional waves of infections. With the recent spike in imported cases into Taiwan, the premier yesterday convened a special meeting of disease prevention experts, various government agencies, and Central Epidemic Command Center personnel to discuss the situation in full.

Experts at the meeting said Taiwan has the virus well under control and that the community in Taiwan is relatively safe compared with those of other countries. While the nation has taken strict and proper prevention measures from the outset, it cannot afford to lower the shields. The recommendation was made to continue testing incoming travelers who display symptoms, and requiring those without symptoms to undergo 14 days of home isolation or quarantine followed by seven days of self-health monitoring.

Authorities also issued a nationwide mandate for people to wear face masks in crowded public places, specifically health care institutions, mass transit vehicles and stations, marketplaces, education and learning institutions, performance and competition venues, houses of worship, recreation and entertainment venues, and sites of large gatherings.

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