People walk through the usually crowded Ximending pedestrian area in Taipei’s Wanhua District yesterday, the second day of the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend. Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC） yesterday reported 174 local COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths.
As the daily case count yesterday was the lowest since a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert was issued on May 19, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the center, said: “We are glad to see the case counts gradually falling, but we must remind everyone that they cannot relax yet.”
The cases are 79 males and 95 females, from under the age of five to older than 90, he said, adding that they began experiencing symptoms from May 23 to Saturday.
Chen said most of the infections were reported in New Taipei City, with 81 cases, followed by Taipei with 62, Taoyuan with 16, Keelung with seven, Changhua County with four, Hsinchu County with two, and Taichung and Hualien County with one case each.
The center also reported 26 deaths due to COVID-19 — 15 men and 11 women who were aged from their 50s to older than 90.
Twenty-one of them had underlying health conditions and the health histories of the remaining five are being investigated.
Four of the fatalities tested positive in post-mortem examinations, CECC data showed.
Asked about a doctor’s remark that people with COVID-19 might be at acute risk of death or sudden death not only from silent hypoxia, but also from pulmonary embolism, Centers for Disease Control （CDC） Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞）, deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said that other countries have reported COVID-19 deaths with pulmonary embolism.
Studies indicate lower rates of pulmonary embolism in Asian populations than among Caucasians, but there were a few cases among COVID-19 patients in Taiwan, he said, adding that the patients have almost recovered and are about to be discharged from hospital.
They experienced difficulty breathing or low blood oxygen levels from coagulation disorders, he added.
The risk of pulmonary embolism would be discussed at the CECC’s weekly meeting with the Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care, and intensive care unit physicians, focusing on critical cases and clinical treatment, Lo said.
Responding to an online rumor that elderly people should take pain relievers before getting vaccinated to prevent adverse reactions, Lo said studies suggest that elderly people are at lower risk of adverse or allergic reactions after getting an AstraZeneca jab than younger people.
Allergic reactions following vaccination often occur within half an hour, so vaccine recipients are advised to stay at the vaccination site for 30 minutes after receiving a shot, he said.
Fever often occurs about 12 hours or later after vaccination, so vaccine recipients can take pain medicine or an antipyretic if they want to, he added.
Chen said that occupancy at designated COVID-19 hospital rooms has fallen from last month.
As of yesterday, 1,416 beds out of a total 2,948 in Taipei and New Taipei City were empty, in addition to 7,065 empty beds nationwide, he said.
There were also 181 empty beds in COVID-19 intensive care units in Taipei and New Taipei City hospitals, and 588 additional empty beds nationwide, he said.
The number of recovered COVID-19 patients released from isolation has reached about half of the total confirmed cases in Taiwan, Chen said.