Taiwanese Health Official Warns Against Reliance on Coronavirus Vaccines

The Taiwanese health official credited with leading one of the world’s most successful COVID-19 control efforts is warning people globally to keep up their guard against coronavirus even as vaccines emerge.Governments will face challenges in distributing vaccine shots to their populations, leading to an “imbalance” between those who are protected and those still at risk, Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told VOA on Monday. Coronavirus caseloads worldwide have not yet reached their all-time peak, he added.Chen’s government has kept the Taiwan COVID-19 caseload at just 838 across a population of nearly 24 million, among the populous world’s lowest rates, due to strict quarantine rules and tracing of sick people’s contacts.Customers wear protective masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease while shopping at a market in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 10, 2021.The flu killed no one in Taiwan over the final two months of 2020 when most people were wearing masks, down from 87 deaths from the flu in the same period of 2019, he said. Enterovirus cases dropped, too, added Chen, who plans to recommend continued facemask use in Taiwan after Covid-19 outbreaks ease.“Putting on a facemask isn’t that hard, especially in the winter when it’s cold outside anyway,” he said. “It’s useful for stopping Covid-19 as well as other respiratory diseases.”Control over COVID-19 at home won’t open a door to Taipei’s long-sought participation in the World Health Organization, from which it is barred by political rival China and its allies. But Chao Chien-min, dean of social sciences at Chinese Culture University in the capital, says it has given the island a welcome glow overseas.“I think Taiwan’s role has been big and its volume loud throughout this COVID-19 incident period, and whether in the WHO or in whatever forum, Taiwan’s epidemic control success will be mentioned,” Chao said. “So for Taiwan, there’s that effect.”But an infected airline pilot and two coronavirus cases in a Taiwan hospital since Dec. 22 have put Taiwan on high alert. Migrant workers coming in from infected countries such as Indonesia may carry the virus too, said Wu Chia-yi, associate professor in the National Taiwan University College of Medicine’s nursing faculty.“Because we import Indonesian labor, I think this group of people in Taiwan is a potential risk and a high risk,” Wu said. “So if you ask me whether Taiwan has future risk, I think we still have potential risk of outbreak from the imported cases.”

January 13th, 2021 by
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