Hospitals have become crowded with people seeking to take PCR tests in light of the worsening epidemic situation. The CECC announced a plan if grassroots clinics would be willing to conduct PCR tests, there will be a NT$500 reward for each. However, some clinics say the feasibility is not high.
The number of new domestic COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Many people are rushing to hospital ERs to take PCR tests. To relieve the pressure on ERs, the Central Epidemic Command Center sent a letter on April 30 about plans to have grassroots clinics conduct PCR tests. The plan included a NT$500 reward for each conducted test. Some clinics say the feasibility is not high.
Lin Ying-jan, Chairperson, Primary Care Association: “Many clinics are very small, and there may be no way to triage. There probably aren't many grassroots medical institutions or clinics that meet the requirements.”
The Primary Care Association says many clinics don't have the staff and space needed to take on this task. They would also have to prepare personal protective equipment and reduce their hours in order to do so, not to mention the post-testing disinfecting and cleaning. As a result, not many clinics are willing to conduct PCR tests. The CECC also announced in light of the escalating epidemic situation that only people with positive rapid test results will be able to take PCR tests at hospitals. Some doctors say Taipei will need the capacity to process a minimum of 40,000 tests a day based on the situation in South Korea during its peak pandemic period.
Chiang Kuan-yu, General Physician, Taipei City Hospital Zhongxing Branch: “If you convert it to Taiwan's population of 23 million, the daily testing capacity needs to be at least 390,000. Taipei has a population of 2.5 million, so its testing capacity needs to be 42,500.”
Doctors say community transmission is happening and the accuracy of rapid tests and PCR tests is comparable. They advise the central government to accept a positive rapid test result as the official criterion for a case in place of the current requirement of a positive PCR test result. If it is worried about false positives, then it can set a requirement of two positive rapid test results. Rapid tests don't need to be conducted by medical personnel, so this frees up medical capacity to treat serious cases and at-risk groups.