Virus measures tightened – Taipei Times

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  • By Lee I-chia / Staff Reporter

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced increased disease prevention measures for public transportation, business premises, places of worship and events, and migrant worker management, citing an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 in Taiwan.

The center reported 82 local cases yesterday, the highest daily number since June last year.

The majority of them can be traced back to two groups: one with employees – mostly migrant workers – at an electronics company in Taoyuan and the other with a maintenance worker at the port of Kaohsiung, according to the CECC.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the two clusters have increased the risk of local transmission, so strengthened measures are being implemented nationwide.

Transport and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said that starting today, eating and drinking will be banned on all forms of public transport: planes, boats, buses and trains, including bullet trains.

The only exceptions would be drinking water when it’s physiologically needed to take medication or breastfeed, Wang said.

Photo: CNA

Public transportation stations, national scenic areas and post offices have been asked to thoroughly implement contact registration and increase the frequency of environmental disinfection to meet the standards of a Level 3 COVID-19 alert, he said, adding that additional cleaning and disinfection of Handrails, knobs, toilet doorknobs and tray tables would be carried out.

Wang said the procedure for assigning international travelers to disease-prevention taxis has been improved to ensure there is no physical contact, and disease-prevention vehicles would have their own completely separate areas at highway rest stops.

Deputy Economy Minister Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said his ministry has urged companies with facilities near clusters in Taoyuan or with employees suspected of having been exposed to confirmed cases to rapid COVID-19 testing of the staff to carry out.

The ministry is also encouraging all companies across the country, especially those with more than 100 employees, to conduct rapid COVID-19 testing of their employees, he said, adding that the ministry can help match companies with test kit manufacturers.

Chen Chern-chyi urged convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants to thoroughly implement contact tracing, temperature measurement and other preventive measures.

It is recommended that employees of these companies in Taoyuan take a rapid test for COVID-19 even if they are fully vaccinated.

Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that since many people are expected to attend religious events during the Lunar New Year holiday, his ministry has asked religious groups not to hold events where crowds would inevitably gather, such as Parades and incense races.

Religious groups must submit a COVID-19 safety plan and obtain local government approval if they are to hold a religious event for more than 500 participants, he said, adding that contact tracing, temperature measurements and disinfection would need to be implemented.

Religious workers and visitors to religious places and events must wear a mask at all times and are not allowed to eat or drink. The staff of religious institutions must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Visitor capacity at religious places and events should be limited to a density of one person per 2.25m² indoors and one person per 1m² outdoors, entrances and exits should be separate and visitors must move in one direction through the Move venue and maintain appropriate social distance while queuing, Hsu said.

Meals at religious events may only be offered in sealed containers, and wrapping or eating the food on the spot is prohibited, he said, adding that people are encouraged to bring divination sticks, divination blocks and dinner plates since the venues are banned from theirs own if you must.

Accommodation for visitors to religious sites is limited to one person per room or one family per room, he added.

Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said her ministry, in response to the cluster of infections at the Taoyuan company linked to two migrant workers who ate at a steakhouse where there was a cluster of infections, called their employers and recruiting agencies to collaborate with CECC testing and contact tracing.

The Taoyuan Labor Ministry inspected the migrant workers’ dormitory and found it to meet disease prevention guidelines, she said, adding that the migrant workers identified as close contacts of confirmed cases were asked to stay in their dormitories for testing contact tracing.

Employers and staffing agencies would provide them with meals and other necessities, she said.

The Labor Department has also launched countermeasures, including testing employees at companies with 50 or more migrant workers, hiring bilingual staff to assist with contact tracing, improving inspections, encouraging migrant workers to get full vaccinations and translation information from the CECC on disease prevention and to send it to migrant workers through multiple channels.

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