Taiwan has seen its first domestic cluster infection caused by the Omicron subvariant BA.5. Public health scholars say Taiwan will find it difficult to resist the invasion of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, just like many other countries in the world. They predict the number of new daily cases will reach 30,000 starting in mid-August.
The Central Epidemic Command Center announced two new domestic cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5 on July 25. One was classified as being part of a cluster, and 12 contacts tested positive. Genome sequencing is underway. Scholars say countries around the world have found it hard to resist the onslaught of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and Taiwan will be no exception. They predict the number of new daily cases will return to 30,000 or so as quickly as mid-August.
Chen Hsiu-hsi, Professor, College of Public Health, NTU: “The proportion has to reach 50 percent before BA.4 and BA.5 have a bigger impact. The time will probably be between Aug. 15 and the end of August.”
The domestic epidemic situation appeared to be improving, and the public and tourism industry both expected border restrictions to be loosened further. Some experts say Taiwan's third dose coverage rate has already surpassed 70 percent, while the fourth dose coverage rate has reached 6 percent. Even if new variants emerge, the majority of the cases will be asymptomatic or light. Experts say the quarantine requirement for entry can be relaxed from the current 3+4 to 0+7 to bring Taiwan in line with the rest of the world.
Huang Li-min, Honorary Chair, Infectious Diseases Society: “There is a very small difference in the efficacy of 3+4 and 0+7. Neither is very effective, so you might as well use 0+7 instead of 3+4.”
Su Tseng-chang, Premier: “We'll consider the epidemic situation and progressively relax all types of measures to bring normalcy back into people's lives.”
The CECC said it won't consider relaxing border restrictions until the child vaccination coverage rate reaches a certain level. However, it hasn't yet decided what the target should be. It will first conduct a period of observation. It also said Taiwan has sufficient vaccines and vaccination is proceeding smoothly.