TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Victor Wang (王必勝) said in a radio interview on Thursday (Sept. 22) that the new "0 + 7" scheme will be launched in early October, but many mask rules will remain in place for confined spaces such as the MRT and gradually eased in stages.
During an interview with BaoDao Radio host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on Thursday, Wang said the new "0 + 7" program will be implemented in early October. However, because masks are a "simple and effective" method for epidemic prevention, masks will continue to be required for the time being, and the rules will only be lifted in stages in the future.
Wang said that after the implementation of the "0 + 7" formula, masks will still be required in confined and crowded areas such as the MRT. Nevertheless, Wang said that in situations where the prevalence of cases becomes low in the community, some epidemic prevention policies will need to be changed.
He said that it is possible Taiwan could emulate the standards used by Singapore and Japan for lifting mask regulations in outdoor and indoor areas. However, he said the mask rules for Taiwan will still need to be applicable to the actual trend with the local outbreak.
Compared with other countries, Taiwan was able to implement its mask laws very thoroughly from the launch of the CECC to the present due to the cooperation of citizens, said Wang. He pointed out that it has rarely been necessary to impose severe punishments to enforce the mask rules because there was a foundation of mutual trust which made it easier to implement epidemic prevention policies.
In addition, Wang said on-arrival saliva testing may be phased out in favor of rapid antigen tests next week. He said that change will be made in preparation for the new "0 + 7" policy. Wang said that as Taiwan opens its borders, it is inevitable that more overseas cases will arrive and infect people in the community, causing local outbreaks, and therefore he called on the public to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
As for the disbanding of the CECC, Wang believes that first of all, as long as the World Health Organization (WHO) still rates COVID as a Public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), Taiwan may still need to observe changes in the pandemic. The WHO is expected to discuss the matter in mid-October.
Whether the local COVID epidemic prevention regulations are normalized will also be key to the dissolution of the CECC, said Wang.
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