Taiwan Fights Worst Outbreak Since Pandemic Began

Country went almost a year without recording a locally transmitted case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2021 2:53 AM CDT
Taiwan Fights Worst Outbreak Since Pandemic Began
People walk past a row of closed shops after the COVID-19 alert rose to level 3 in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan, long considered a success story, reported 312 new confirmed cases on Friday as part of its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung says most of the cases have a clear source, but 72 of the new ones were not apparently linked to the previous infections, the AP reports. Chen urged the island’s residents to refrain from socializing and stay at home. "On these two days, if everyone can reduce the flow of people to the lowest level, and if then we can gradually cut the line of transmission, it will be greatly helpful to us,” he told a daily briefing. Taiwan raised its alert level this week, banning indoor gatherings of more than five people and outdoor gatherings of more than 10.

Schools are shut for two weeks, and many are working from home. More than 600,000 people are in quarantine. The majority of the cases have been discovered in Taipei, the capital, and neighboring New Taipei city. Taiwan has reported an average of 200 to 300 cases in the last week alone, and has recorded a total of 3,139 confirmed cases. Taiwan—which started monitoring flights from China after the first reports of a mysterious virus in Wuhan in late 2019—went 253 days in 2020 without a locally transmitted case. Before last weekend, the number of locally transmitted cases throughout the pandemic was under 100.

(Read more Taiwan stories.)

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