The Central Epidemic Command Center says it's considering relaxing border restrictions in phases: Busienss travelers would be allowed entry and subject to shorter quarantine period starting in mid-March, while quarantine would be waived for travlers that meet certain criteria in April. Some predict Taiwan should be able to completely end its border control by the end of this year.
Taiwan saw three new domestic COVID-19 cases of unknown origin on Feb. 14, all of which were reported in Kaohsiung. There are currently 11 active transmission chains of unknown origin. Some experts say the Omicron variant is characterized by being highly transmissible with a short incubation period, and these individual cases are only the tip of the iceberg. There may be even more invisible transmission chains that are active in communities. Luckily, the majority of the cases appear to be mild.
Huang Li-min, Honorary Chair, Infectious Diseases Society of Taiwan: “Taiwan appears to have numerous invisible transmission chains at the moment. However, as the majority are mild cases, so people might not know they're infected. People only find out when they are forced to take a test, such as if they want to get medical treatment or travel abroad.”
The domestic situation appears to be stabilizing and controllable in the post-holiday period. The Central Epidemic Command Center said if the booster coverage rate reaches 50 percent, then border restrictions can be relaxed, including reducing the quarantine length and allowing business travelers to enter. It hopes the criteria can be reached by mid-March. Scholars say they agree, and also propose further relaxing restrictions in April to waive quarantine for inbound travelers that meet certain conditions.
Tony Chen, Professor, College of Public Health, NTU: “If people have received three vaccine doses and they remain in the protective period, then I believe we can consider waiving the quarantine requirement. In other words, we can end the lockdown.”
Experts say a zero COVID-19 strategy is unattainable, and it's possible that the disease could become milder or like the flu. The current objectives should be zero severe cases and actively handling any outbreaks. Countries are reopening their borders, and Taiwan needs to move in the same direction. If the vaccination coverage rate is high enough and there is a sufficient quantity of antivirals, then Taiwan should be able to completely end its lockdown and allow life to return to normal.