Taiwan considers coronavirus lockdown as island registers record 16 domestic transmissions

Taiwan is tightening its coronavirus restrictions after 16 new domestically transmitted Covid-19 cases were detected, marking the highest-ever daily increase on the island, which has largely kept the pandemic under control.

The island, regarded by China as an integral part of the country, reported 16 new domestic cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday. Four more imported cases, including one from India and three from the Philippines, were reported as well, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The figure became the highest reported in a single day on the island since the beginning of the pandemic. Taiwan has kept the coronavirus well under control for months, registering only 1,210 cases and 12 deaths in over a year.

The surge has already prompted the authorities to tighten restrictions, with all business venues ordered to increase prevention measures – or face closure if they fail to comply.

“Taiwan currently has more than two chains of transmission for which we have yet to identify their sources. We are in critical condition now, and this is not a joke,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told the legislature on Wednesday.

The minister urged the public not to panic buy amid the Covid-19 spike, assuring them that the island has stockpiled plenty of protective equipment and medical supplies. At the same time, Chen said that the country might see its coronavirus alert bumped to Level 3 “in the coming days.”

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Taiwan has a four-tier alert system and has never gone past Level 2, which is currently active. This level bans large-scale indoor and outdoor gatherings of 100 and 500 people respectively, as well as enforcing mask wearing on public transport and in crowded venues.

Level 3, however, effectively stops short of imposing a nationwide lockdown. Under this alert, Taiwanese citizens would be required to wear face masks at all times outside of their homes, while indoor gatherings of more than five people and outdoor ones of more than 10 would be banned, while non-essential businesses would be ordered to shut down.

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