TAIPEI (Reuters) – Millions of COVID-19 vaccines are on their way for Taiwan, the health minister said on Tuesday, as he extended virus-related restrictions until the middle of June even though the trend in new infections is falling.
Having spent months keeping the virus at bay with life relatively normal compared with many other places, Taiwan is dealing with a spike in domestic infections, exacerbated by a low vaccination rate of only about 1% of its population.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said two million vaccine doses would arrive by the end of June and 10 million by the end of August, though he did not give details, only saying that the numbers included domestically developed vaccines.
Taiwan has ordered more than 20 million doses from AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc and is also developing its own vaccines.
Chen said that while infection numbers had continued to fall since last Monday, positive rates remained high.
While current measures were effective, Chen said he was concerned about “hidden spreaders” in the community, which the authorities were not able to detect due to a time lag in getting test results.
“There has been no sudden deterioration,” he said.
Taiwan’s level three measures, one rung below its highest alert level, would be extended until June 14, with schools and entertainment venue remaining closed and personal gatherings restricted, Chen said.
Taiwan has reported 5,456 infections since the pandemic began with 35 deaths.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel)