Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Taiwan Daily Cases Exceed 28,000 - CECC Introduces New Criteria For Hospitalization


Credit Our World In Data


Three weeks ago Taiwan Reported A Record High Daily COVID Case Count, when cases soared to 933 cases in a 24-hour period. Since then we've seen a steady rise in cases, with new records being set practically every day. 

Over the past 24 hours Taiwan has reported 28,497 new cases, a rise of 23% over the previous day's report.  Despite these rising numbers, Taiwan continues to report a reassuringly low number of deaths (5 in the last day). 

Taiwan (pop. 24 million) until very recently has been extraordinarily successful at containing COVID - while at the same time eschewing the draconian lockdown measures seen on the Mainland - but is now resigned to the fact that the more transmisible Omicron variants are no longer controllable. 

As a result, Taiwan is actually loosening some of their pandemic restrictions, even in the face of rising numbers. Yesterday their CDC announced Beginning May 9, mandatory quarantine for arrivals to be shortened to 7 dayswhile over the weekend Premier Su Tseng-chang reassured the public that they would not follow the `cruel' lockdown strategy being used in Shanghai. 

The sheer number of cases, however, means that Taiwan must change they way they handle mild and asymptomatic cases.  Today their CECC announced:

Principles for admission and treatment of mild and severe COVID-19 cases adjusted effectively from today

On May 4, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that the criteria for separately admitting and treating mild and severe COVID-19 cases have been changed, effective from today, to increase medical emergency response capacity. Adjusted criteria are listed below.

A. Individuals with moderate or severe symptoms will be admitted to the hospital.

B. Adults with no/mild symptoms of COVID-19: individuals who are 80 and older or are 36 weeks pregnant will be admitted to the hospital; individuals aged 70-79, adults aged 65-69 who live alone, women within 35 weeks pregnant, and people not requiring hospitalization or not meeting home care criteria will stay in enhanced government quarantine facilities/quarantine hotels; people 69 years of age or younger who meet home care criteria, are not in the 65-69 age group, and don't live alone will be placed under home care.

C. Children with no/mild symptoms: infants younger than 3 months who have a fever, infants 3-12 months old who have a fever over 39° C, and children assessed to require hospitalization for treatment by a doctor will be admitted to the hospital. Children who don't fall into any of the categories mentioned above will be allowed to receive home care if they meet home care criteria; children who don't meet those criteria will be admitted to enhanced government quarantine facilities/quarantine hotels along with their caregivers.

D. Exception: confirmed cases with no or mild symptoms who don't meet home care criteria can be allowed to receive care at home if confirmed cases themselves or their legal representatives request home care and after medical professionals' assessments.

E. Hemodialysis patients with no/mild symptoms of the disease may receive home care and undergo dialysis at designated dialysis clinics or hospitals according to their local health departments' arrangements and instructions.

F. In principle, asymptomatic/mild cases admitted in the hospital should not be hospitalized for more than five days. Such patients can be discharged from the hospital if they have been assessed by medical professionals to not require hospitalization and to meet the criteria for being released from isolation; patients not meeting the criteria for being released from isolation will be sent back home to receive home care until the end of the isolation period. Administrative forms, such as the Notice for Isolation Treatment Release (COVID-19) and Notice for Designated Residence Isolation and Right to Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief (COVID-19), needed by a confirmed case will be issued after the hospital notifies the local health department of release from isolation.

The rapid spread of Omicron through Taiwan, along with the relatively quick acceptance by local officials that they can no longer contain it, illustrates what the Mainland is up against.  

Still, China remains resolute on continuing with their `Zero-COVID' policy (see China CDC Weekly Commentary: Persevere in the Dynamic COVID-Zero Strategy in China- and while their NHC reports slowly improving numbers -  it is difficult to envision it being successful over the long-term. 

With Omicron spreading freely around the world, any victories China may have against the virus today would likely be undermined by the inevitable, and numerous, new introductions of the virus from international travelers going forward. 

Obviously, despite the enormous societal and economic costs, Mainland China continues to see some value in fighting Omicron the same way that they fought previous variants.  

But what their endgame might be, is far from clear.