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Taiwan to extend COVID-19 curbs, schools to stay shut

Taiwan to extend COVID-19 curbs, schools to stay shut

FILE PHOTO: Soldiers in protective suits disinfect a street following the recent surge of COVID-19 infections, in the Tucheng district of New Taipei City, Taiwan on May 27, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Ann Wang)

TAIPEI: Taiwan will extend its COVID-19 restrictions for another two weeks until Jun 28 and schools will remain shut until the summer vacation, the government said on Monday (Jun 7), adding that its outbreak has not yet stabilised.

After months of relative safety, Taiwan has been dealing with a spike in domestic infections and is at its second-highest alert level, with gatherings restricted, entertainment venues shut and students shifted to online learning.

The Cabinet, in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Su Tseng-chang, said the situation was still worrying.

"At present the pandemic has not yet stabilised," it said.

READ: Taiwan to quarantine workers to control COVID-19 spike at tech firm

The extension of the restrictions had been widely expected.

Su told the meeting that Taiwan would this week start distributing 1.24 million AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan. People with chronic diseases and those older than 75 would be given priority, he said.

Speaking at his daily news conference, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the first of 150,000 doses received of the Moderna vaccine would also start being given on Wednesday.

Around 3 per cent of Taiwan's 23.5 million people have received at least one vaccine shot so far. The government is preparing to ramp up vaccinations, although it is still awaiting delivery of millions more doses.

"We didn't buy the vaccines late - we started signing (contracts) from September. The problem at the moment is supplies," Chen said.

The United States has also promised 750,000 doses. Chen said the government is still awaiting further details on the US vaccines, but that relevant paperwork should be completed soon.

READ: Taiwan struggles with COVID-19 testing backlog amid largest outbreak

Chen announced 211 new infections on Monday, down from 343 the day before. The drop, however, could be due to a lower number of tests at the weekend, he said.

The government has repeatedly said it is not planning for a full lockdown but has continued to tighten rules, including on the number of people allowed into supermarkets and traditional wet markets to buy food.

The government has reported 11,491 cases and 286 deaths since the pandemic began.

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Source: Reuters/ga


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