TAIPEI: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday (Jan 4) urged vigilance against the spread of the coronavirus after the island detected its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant spreading in the community.
Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control because of early and effective prevention, including largely closing its borders. Most cases of its cases have been imported from abroad, though the island did see an outbreak of domestic infections in the middle of 2021.
After months of relative safety, Taiwan this week reported its first two cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, both linked to a quarantine hotel.
Another person, a cleaner working at the island's main international airport, was "likely" to be infected with the Omicron variant, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.
"With the emergence of domestic cases, everyone must stay vigilant," Tsai said in a post on Facebook, adding that epidemic prevention measures had been tightened at the airport.
"Most importantly, please get a vaccination as soon as possible."
Health Minister Chen said the new cases had put "a lot of pressure" on the government's efforts against the pandemic.
In the northern city of Taoyuan, where the airport is located, several coronavirus testing centres were set up on streets while a rule on wearing masks at all times was reintroduced.
Taiwan has vaccinated about 70 per cent of its 23.5 million people and the government is offering incentives such as shopping coupons to boost the rate.