The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported no new cases of COVID-19, while expressing its gratitude to mask manufacturers for meeting domestic demand and producing extra for nations in need.
Yesterday marked the 51st day without a domestic case being reported, while 427 infected people have recovered and been released from isolation, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
About 100,000 new cases are diagnosed around the world every day, so as Taiwan gradually eases disease prevention regulations, everyone must continue to practice personal protective measures, he said.
The center would continue to bolster the nation’s medical preparedness and responsiveness, but the healthcare system has achieved its three main goals in the fight against COVID-19, Chen said, while Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) added that the goals were “reducing the speed of virus transmission,” “safeguarding core personnel to maintain healthy healthcare operations,” and “reducing severe cases and deaths.”
“To slow the spread of the coronavirus, turnaround for test results and hospital admissions for people with confirmed infections must speed up, so the CECC is continuing to expand testing capacity — the nation now has 45 designated testing facilities that can conduct 5,900 tests per day, with the results available in 24 hours,” Hsueh said.
There are 4,169 hospital beds — 963 negative pressure isolation wards, 1,031 isolation wards and 2,175 specialized wards — that can be used for confirmed cases, Hsueh said, adding that there are also 27 centralized quarantine facilities and temporary negative pressure isolation chambers that can be set up for additional admissions.
To prevent the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, the center needed to maintain a certain number of healthy healthcare practitioners — as they are the most important front-line defense — so it announced in late February the controversial ban against healthcare personnel traveling abroad, he added.
So far, 10,194 healthcare practitioners have applied for government compensation following the policy, claiming about NT$82.39 million (US$2.75 million), Hsueh said, adding that if all of these people had been put under a 14-day quarantine after returning from abroad, it would have had a considerable effect on facility staff.
Although a mask might seem small, they have made a considerable contribution, Chen said, adding that all local mask manufacturers and distributors successfully completed their mission, and contributed to the nation’s outstanding fight against the coronavirus.
Domestic production of surgical and medical masks increased from 2.71 million per day in late January — when the government began requisitioning masks and having military personnel help in mask factories — to 19.11 million per day as of Sunday, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said, adding that 114 assembly lines were added in four months.
Since Feb. 6, about 700 million masks have been sold through the real-name mask purchasing system, while the stockpile of requisitioned masks is still more than 350 million, Wang said.
More than 22 million masks have been provided to healthcare practitioners, while the CECC has also provided a sufficient number of N95 respirators and protective clothing to them, Wang added.
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