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Premier: Support health care capacity, emergency services, local administration

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a Ministry of Health and Welfare briefing on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures. At this current stage, the premier said, the key tasks for managing the pandemic are ensuring sufficient health care capacity, maintaining the smooth operation of emergency medical services, and lightening the administrative burden on local governments in high-risk areas. The government continues to adjust on a rolling basis the triage procedures for mild and severe cases, and has set up additional community screening stations to ease the pressure on medical institutions.

Premier Su said that the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) updated its principles for admission and treatment of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Hospitals will now only admit moderate or severe cases, or individuals over 80 years old or at least 36 weeks pregnant. To increase screening capacity, the CECC has also asked city and county governments to set up additional community screening stations. Over 300 community clinics have also been enlisted to provide PCR testing services to alleviate pressure on hospitals.

The government's website for self-reporting of confirmed cases was launched Sunday. The premier noted that the digitization of the home isolation notification system alleviates the burden on local governments to set up paperwork to notify positive cases or close contacts.

Considering Taiwan's public health capabilities, along with the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant, the CECC also announced that quarantine requirements starting next Monday for arriving travelers will be shortened to seven days followed by an additional seven days of self-health management.

The premier went on to discuss the 2022 World Press Freedom Index published Tuesday by Reporters without Borders. Taiwan ranked 38th out of 180 countries surveyed, improving five notches from 43rd place in 2021 and taking first place in Asia. Also on Tuesday, Taiwan was named the third-best investment destination in the world in this year's first investment environment risk assessment report released by U.S.-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence, an improvement over last year's performance as well. Moreover, S&P Global Ratings raised Taiwan's sovereign credit rating to AA+ on strong economic performance and a stable outlook this year. This came after S&P raised Taiwan's rating from AA- to AA last April, and again to AA+ this year, a rating Taiwan has not held for 21 years.

Taiwan has been highly rated by many international organizations over the past two years. The government will continue easing COVID restrictions to strike a balance among disease prevention, economic growth and normal living. We will guide the nation through this difficult but necessary stage of the pandemic so that Taiwan's society can continue moving forward, the premier said.

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