Safeguarding the community line of defense to create a positive new lifestyle for disease prevention
In view of the grave experience of combating SARS back in 2003, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has realized that prioritizing the community line of defense is of utmost importance to preventing national epidemics. As the international pandemic rises, it is expected that a large number of inbound travelers will be required to carry out home quarantine. Furthermore, if a confirmed case of COVID-19 appears, their related contacts will also need to perform home quarantine as well. In such a scenario, Taiwan will be facing a tall order in disease prevention. Therefore, Taiwan follows the principle of “super early response”, by actively developing and implementing community prevention measures.
I. Use of technology for follow-up care for quarantined and self-isolating people:
(I) Building a smart information system: Taking advantage of the high national cell phone penetration rate and excellent technological capabilities, in early February 2020, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) quickly mobilized human resources from cross-functional committees, nongovernmental information, communication and telecommunications and combined those with the epidemic prevention and border control work. Innovative technology methodologies were employed to quickly set up an intelligent information system. Databases of Household Registries, National Health Insurance, and Customs and Immigration were connected to create an “Entry Quarantine System”, a “Home Quarantine Tracking System” and a “Digital Fencing Tracking System”. Additionally, balancing personal privacy protections with the need for epidemic prevention, civil affairs units, public health units and district police forces collaborated to provide follow-up care for people in home isolation and quarantine.
II. Establishment of Central and Local Government Care Centers
III. Important preventative measures at the community level:
2.Relevant “crowd control measures in the main tourist attractions, night markets, temples and other public locations” have been established, and these measures serve as guidelines to manage safe behavior of people at tourist attractions, night markets, temples and so forth during weekends and holidays.
3. With regard to crowded locations during weekends and holidays, the CECC has forwarded text messages via the national “Public Warning System (PWS) for transmissible diseases” to remind the public at particular locations to maintain a safe social distance and wear masks. The public was also advised to implement 14 days of self-health management after returning from a crowded place during weekends or holidays.
4. Continued advocacy for the New Lifestyle for Disease Prevention to increase awareness in a variety of venues and encourage citizens to internalize epidemic prevention as their daily habits.
Important community-based preventative measures
(1) As COVID-19 remains severe globally and the virus keeps mutating, the CECC announced that starting March 1, 2021, the “one person per residence” rule of home (self) isolation shall be imposed for close contacts to bolster prevention measures at the community level, instead of the original rule of one person per room, to ensure people’s health.
Special populations, including children and adolescents (under 18), adults who are over 65 and unable to take care of themselves, people with disabilities or incapacity, and people with catastrophic injuries or illnesses, may be allowed to live with a caregiver who is not subjected to quarantine or isolation, and the rule of one person per room does not apply.
(2) In response to the global spread and high transmissibility of the Delta variant and given that some contacts isolating at home may be found to have COVID-19 during the period of self-health management after the end of isolation, starting June 22, 2021, close contacts of confirmed cases and those entering Taiwan from abroad must undergo PCR testing two days prior to the end of home quarantine/isolation.
(3) In order to enhance health monitoring during the period of self-health management after quarantine, starting 00:00 (flight arrival time) on October 4, 2021, the existing measures requiring arrivals to take an at-home rapid test between the 10th and 12th day of quarantine was adjusted. The changed measures require arrivals to take a rapid test between the sixth day and seventh day of the self-health management period and report their test result back via two-way SMS messaging.
(4) In response to the quarantine requirements of citizens returning to Taiwan for the lunar new year, the “Lunar New Year Quarantine Programs” were effective between December 14, 2021 to February 14, 2022. Arrivals may choose one of the three quarantine plans based on their vaccination status and the conditions of their home or relative’s residence. Starting December 14, 2021, heavy penalties were imposed for violation of home quarantine regulations. In order to safeguard epidemic prevention efforts in communities and the health of citizens, arrivals were considered individuals subjected to isolation who should complete isolation at their quarantine location. However, if a change of the quarantine location was necessary, the principle of “one person per residence” must be met; additionally, individuals completing quarantine and continuing to undergo isolation must produce a negative PCR before changing the location. Such individuals under isolation or self-health management must undergo PCR testing or government-funded rapid testing as required.
(5) In response to the continued spread of the Omicron variant in the following months, health monitoring of arrivals during the quarantine and self-health management periods was enhanced. Testing measures implemented under the Lunar New Year Quarantine programs were adjusted on December 20, 2021, requiring individuals under quarantine to take RT-PCR or government-funded rapid tests upon entry and on third, seventh, tenth, and 14th day of quarantine as well as between the sixth and seventh day of the self-health management period.
4. Given the possibility of some people being diagnosed with COVID-19 after their two-week quarantine, the CECC has announced that, as of April 5, 2020, people should carry out an additional 7-day self-health management immediately after being released from home quarantine/isolation. This may prevent patients with a longer latency period from spreading virus into the community.
IV. Expanding the capacity of quarantine/isolation sites:
(I) To prevent the COVID-19 from spreading into communities, the CECC has designated and sequestered sites for group quarantine and has allocated human resources to run those. Additionally, the CECC continues to carry out location scouting, sequester suitable sites and increase the number of designated quarantine sites. As of March 15, 2021, there are 40 designated quarantine sites with 4,579 fully-equipped rooms available for use.
(II) To care for the people in designated quarantine sites, all tasks are looked after by a Safety Team, Logistics Team, Sanitation Team, and so forth to assist with daily surveillance, environment cleaning, and medical and mental health services. The designated quarantine sites have provided services for many people, including Taiwanese nationals returning to Taiwan from Wuhan, Shanghai, and India on chartered/evacuation flights, Taiwanese passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise, naval crew members of Taiwan Dunmu (Goodwill) fleet, and migrant workers.
V. Creating a positive social climate for disease prevention:
(II) Furthermore, the CECC has also utilized multiple platforms such as press conferences, video clip series on epidemic prevention, MOHW website, Facebook and Line@ official account and various other resources for promoting the value of positive epidemic prevention and endeavored to form a friendly, forgiving and non-discriminative social climate. The CECC firmly follows the principle of “Honesty is the best policy for disease prevention” to prevent conflicts between the general public, people diagnosed with COVID-19 and people quarantined or self-isolating at home.
(III) Building a “New Life Movement for Disease Prevention”: To provide stepwise progress to restore the normal life, the government encourages the public to practice handwashing and personal hygiene habits, maintaining an indoor social distance of 1. 5m and an outdoor social distance of over 1m.
- Last Updated:2022-03-10
- Data Source:Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare
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