Taiwan The government said on Saturday restrictions would be tightened after a rare spike in national transmission of the Omicron variant, saying it must act now to avoid being overwhelmed, even if overall figures remain quite low.
After months with no or few community infections, Taiwan has seen an uptick in local Covid-19 cases since early January, mostly linked to workers at the main international airport in the northern city of Taoyuan who were infected by arriving passengers, Reuters reports.
On Friday evening, the government announced 60 new cases at a factory near the airport after testing 1,000 workers.
There have been no deaths and most cases have had only mild or no symptoms.
In a statement, Prime Minister Su Tseng Chang said that while this outbreak did not result in any serious illnesses, action needed to be taken. “If the pandemic cannot be contained, it will always burden the medical system,” he said.
The new restrictions will include a ban on eating and drinking on public transport and limits on the number of people visiting temples, ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which begins at the end of this month.
Testing will be expanded to reach as many contacts as possible, the health minister said, Chen Shih-chung.
“Of course we think this pandemic is threatening, so we have to be extra vigilant,” he said.
Taiwan has been very successful in controlling the pandemic with early and strict border controls and an effective tracing system.
More than 70% of Taiwanese have received two doses of the vaccine and booster shots are currently being rolled out, with around 15% of residents having received a third shot so far.