Taiwan issues social distancing guidelines

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday recommended that people in Taiwan stay at least one meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak that has spread across the world.

People are advised to wear a surgical mask if they are unable to maintain a safe distance, in particular when using modes of public transportation such as buses or subways, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

The CECC was also to hold a meeting later Tuesday to come up with more concrete guidelines on social distancing, and the results should be released later this week, according to Chen.

He stressed, however, that the guidelines are only recommendations, and people who fail to keep safe distances from one another will not be punished for the time being.

The CECC will closely watch how well people follow social distancing guidelines for a period of time and will consider imposing punishments should “severe violations” be reported in the future, he said.

Social distancing has been implemented by governments around the world to curb COVID-19 as the number of infections continues to rise.

Last week, the CECC recommended the cancellation of mass gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.

Taiwan recorded 16 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 322 with five deaths since the coronavirus emerged in China at the end of last year, according to CECC statistics.

A total of 263 of those cases, mostly involving people who contracted the disease overseas, have emerged since March 15, when Taiwan only had 59 confirmed cases.

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