Taiwan Health Minister acknowledges possible Omicron infection

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) acknowledged the possibility of Omicron infection cases appearing in Taiwan and emphasized the importance of border control on Tuesday.

As the Omicron COVID-19 variant sweeps across the world, many are worried that another rise of infections may deter them from celebrating Christmas and New Year’s.

Speaking at a press event today, Chen admitted that arriving travelers carrying Omicron into Taiwan is a big possibility, but hoped that the virus can be detected and prevented from further spread at the border.

He pointed out the importance of having passengers from the newly-updated “key high-risk countries list” quarantine at a centralized facility for 14 days, and be tested for the virus routinely.

The Health Minister also assured the public that Omicron is completely detectable through PCR tests, adding that there is not enough evidence at the moment to determine the exact virus type or genetic variations of Omicron.

However, Chen remarked that as Omicron seems to have many genetic variations, there is a high possibility it can easily break through the protection acquired through vaccines.

He observed that although most of the infected in South Africa are quite young in age with symptoms that are pretty mild, he believes that it’s not because the virus only targets the young, but rather that young people are more likely to contract it due to them being more active.

As of today’s tally, Chen revealed that around 190 people have arrived in Taiwan from South Africa, and 200 or so have arrived from one of the six countries listed in the key high-risk countries list.

He assured everyone that the capacity for testing individuals for the virus is sufficient, adding that in the last month, due to the closure of airports such as Amsterdam, it is more difficult for people to travel, meaning there may be less people returning to Taiwan during this time.