A new policy went into effect where those with a positive rapid test result will count as confirmed cases. The home test kit results, however, have to be validated by doctors via virtual appointments, which has created extra workload for hospital staff.
Doctor: “Mister, can you provide your rapid test result to us for reference?”
Patient: “This one?”
A patient shows a doctor a positive rapid test result via videoconference. The name of the patient and the date the test was taken are written on the test itself. The doctor then determines whether this patient counts as a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Hsu Jung-yuan, Deputy Superintendent, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital: “The most important thing is to confirm the status of the patient. Someone in this patient's household must have already been infected, and the patient is undergoing home isolation.”
A new policy went into effect on May 12 where certain individuals with a positive rapid test result will count as confirmed cases. They are people who are quarantining at home, isolating at home, or undergoing self-health management. Central Epidemic Command Center statistics show as of May 9, there are 70,000 people isolating, 17,000 people quarantining, and 232,000 people conducting self-health management. Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital says it is currently looking after 18,000 patients with mild symptoms staying at home. If it has to hold a videoconference with each one of them to confirm a rapid test result, it won't be able to handle it.
Hsu Jung-yuan, Deputy Superintendent, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital: “This workload is enormously heavy. Think about it, we are taking care of 18,000 confirmed cases staying at home, what if we have to look after their family members as well?”
Grassroots clinics are also feeling overwhelmed. They say the government has failed to complete preparing related systems and the launch will be delayed. Once they take on the work of confirming tests via virtual appointments, this will take up 20 to 30 percent of their time and they won't be able to charge registration and prescription fees.
Chen Yu-cheng, Otolaryngologist: “We normally ask family members to pay when they bring in NHI cards to be read. There may be a chance that we won't be able to collect fees. This happens two to three times out of 10.”
Doctors also expressed concerns that multiple people might try to pass off the same positive rapid test result as their own, and this will be difficult to verify via videoconference. There are 50,000 new cases a day at present, which means at least 350,000 new cases a week. The number of people with positive rapid test results needing verification through virtual appointments is expected to increase, and there are fears about the resulting chaos.