The 2022 Smart City Summit and Expo is being held at Nangang Exhibition Hall while three foreign guests tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the opening ceremony. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung admitted that efforts to keep them separated were not adequately implemented right from the start.
The 2022 Smart City Summit and Expo is being held at Nangang Exhibition Hall. Foreigners invited to attend the event were given special treatment to enter Taiwan through "bubbles," which included not having to take COVID-19 tests at the airport. Instead, they were only tested after they arrived at their hotel. Three of them subsequently tested positive, bringing to light a breach in the government's disease prevention policy. The positive tests also forced the event to be suspended. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung admitted the efforts to separate these foreigners in "bubbles" were poorly implemented.
Chen Shih-chung, Health and Welfare Minister: “As of now, the number of cases hasn't increased. The separation efforts on the first day were poorly implemented, and they were allowed to have contact with other people at the exhibition venue. The planning of the implementation of the bubble was executed poorly.”
As a result of these three positive cases, 38 people have been ordered to quarantine and 119 to conduct self-health management. The Taipei City Government also sent out an alert to the 5,045 people who attended expo events on March 22. The hotel where the cases are staying was disinfected. One of them, a Poland national, had a Ct value of 25. Doctors say that these bubbles for foreigners need to effectively keep them separate from locals to ensure that contacts can be traced as soon as cases are found.
Chou Pai-chien, Thoracic Doctor, Taipei Medical University Hospital: “What happened is that a hole developed. Sometimes even three rounds of disinfection are ineffective and even if we keep them separated, there's still no way to ensure that they won't affect other staff members.”
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a protein-based vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing revealed during an interview that this vaccine may be available in Taiwan soon, and Chen confirmed the information.
Chen Shih-chung, Health and Welfare Minister: “It's not very certain yet, but we intend to purchase two million doses of the Novavax vaccine, that's two million doses. However, it's still unknown how many doses there will be in the first batch that arrives.”
Lee said the vaccine has completed human trials for the 12 to 17 age group and trials are underway for those under the age of 12. The protection rate is 89 percent, which is comparable to mRNA vaccines. Meanwhile, the risk of myocarditis in adolescents is lower with protein-based vaccines compared to mRNA vaccines.