《TAIPEI TIMES》 CECC posts 24 new domestic infections
A staff member at a kindergarten in Taipei on Friday wipes tables in preparation for the school’s conditional reopening after a nationwide COVID-19 alert is lowered from level 3 to level 2 on Tuesday. Photo: CNA
SPEED IS KEY: Local governments would soon have a central platform to help them accelerate contact tracing, as some cases have traveled between cities and counties
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC） yesterday reported 24 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, as it announced the launch of an online contact tracing assistance platform, as well as guidelines for reopening traditional healing practices, infant care centers and family childcare services.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the center, said 12 of the 24 local infections tested positive during isolation or upon ending isolation.
The infection sources of 17 cases have been identified, four remain unclear and three are being investigated, he said.
New Taipei City reported the most cases with nine, followed by Taipei with seven, Taoyuan with three, Changhua County with two, and Keelung, Taichung and Miaoli County with one each, he said.
“Confirmed cases have been reported in more cities and counties, but the number of locally transmitted cases with unknown infection sources remains under 10,” Chen said. “The cases were more grouped, with relatively few sporadic cases detected.”
Chen said eating and drinking would still not be allowed on tour buses from Tuesday, when a nationwide COVID-19 alert is to be lowered from level 3 to level 2, as the Ministry of Economic Affairs decided it should be consistent with a ban on eating and drinking on Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp （台灣高鐵） trains.
The CECC would be launching an online contact tracing assistance platform to help local governments conduct contact tracing more accurately and efficiently, he said.
Executive Yuan Department of Cybersecurity Director Jian Hong-wei （簡宏偉）, who heads the center’s information team, said the platform, expected to be launched tomorrow, provides access to maps of COVID-19 hotspots, locations visited by cases while they were infectious and the real-name registration text message platform database.
“All the data from the real-name registration text message platform can only be used by contact tracing personnel, and the platform records every search they perform,” Jian said. “The data will also be deleted after 28 days, and the center will make inspections to ensure that local governments delete the data after 28 days.”
“As some confirmed cases have traveled between cities and counties within a day, we hope the platform can help accelerate the process of contact tracing and placing close contacts under isolation,” Chen said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞）, deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said the traditional healing practices allowed to reopen on Tuesday include those that offer foot massages, meridian therapy, traditional non-invasive naprapathy and body massages by visually impaired therapists.
He said businesses would be required to ensure their staff manage their health and hygiene, such as by changing gloves after treating each patient; implement management rules for patients, such as by only accepting reservations, with 15 minutes between each appointment; and implement environment management rules, including the banning of private rooms.
Meanwhile, Social and Family Affairs Administration Director Chien Hui-chuan （簡慧娟） said COVID-19 management guidelines for infant care centers and recommended COVID-19 preventive measures for family childcare services have been released, aimed at infant care center staff and in-home caregivers.
The guidelines for infant care centers include detailed instructions on how staff should monitor their health, as well as disinfection, meal management, outdoor activities, visitor restrictions and class activities, with different rules for the three COVID-19 alert levels.
Chien said that for an infant care center to reopen, the vaccination coverage of staff must be above 80 percent, and centers must follow the mandatory reporting and response measures if a suspected or confirmed case is detected.
Inspections would be carried out regularly by local governments, Chien added.
The recommended measures for family childcare services are to help nannies and family members who live with an infant prevent infections at home and instruct them on what to do if they or the infant develop suspected COVID-19 symptoms, Chien said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung displays COVID-19 case statistics during a daily news conference at the Central Epidemic Command Center in Taipei yesterday. Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center