Adequate testing capacity and precisely locate potentially infected individuals- Crucial Policy for Combating COVID-19 press enter to main content
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Adequate testing capacity and precisely locate potentially infected individuals

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Background

The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a novel coronavirus of which the global community still has little understanding and studies are actively underway. However, due to the rapid spreading of the disease, over 3.7 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and more than 260,000 people passed away from December 2019 to May 2020. As a large number of people present with the illness in such a short amount of time, many countries are experiencing medical staff work overload and the collapse of medical healthcare systems, leading to high mortality rate of confirmed cases in some countries. To limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the medical healthcare system, to save more lives, Taiwan has handled the epidemic with great caution, and had smart  testing policies in place prior to the occurrence of the outbreak. Not only so, but rolling plans and adjustments are also made towards the definition of suspected COVID-19 cases to ensure the testing criteria correlate with the most updated epidemiological investigation outcomes. 

 

President Tsai Ing-wen inspects the laboratory in the Kunyang Office of the Taiwan Centers of Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare.


Decisions and measures

I. Establishment of national testing network:

(I) In response to the future potential demands for large number testing works, the CECC has initiated stepwise upgrades of the overall testing capacity as well as refinements in the management and distribution processes of specimens. 
(II) Currently, there are 52 designated testing facilities in Taiwan: North (27), Central (11), South (12), East (3). Taiwan now currently has a testing capacity of up to 7,166 specimens per day . The test kits Taiwan uses are molecular diagnostics with high sensitivity, which allows the result to be read after 4-6 hours. This method is widely adopted by other countries all over the world. 
 
 

The national inspection network continues to expand its capacity. 

 

II. Constructing community surveillance network and accurate testing strategies:

(I) Expanding screening and testing: encourage national hospitals with higher regional functions to establish a Biosafety level-2 negative pressure laboratory (BSL-2) to provide a localized testing network and boosting testing capabilities. 
(II) Activating a plan for strengthening community surveillance: completion of community surveillance network and treatment by medical institutions at different levels according to the severity of the disease. The plan focuses on the reinforcing screening for high risk subjects. Dedicated wards or hospitals have also been designated for patients with mild or severe symptoms. 
(III) Creating a map for community facilities (161 facilities) designated for specimen collection to provide easy access for the public to receive specialized evaluation and screening. Moreover, 52 hospitals have been designated for treatment of severe cases. Strengthening the community surveillance helps alleviate the burden on the hospitals. 
 

A community collection and inspection network continues to expand collection and inspection capacity. 

 
(IV) Taiwan has carried out contact tracing in synch with the stepping up of international travel warnings are as follows: 
1. Testing was extended to people entering Taiwan from Europe between March 3-14, with records for seeking medical attention to carry out virus screening and include them in home quarantine. 
2. Testing extended to people entering Taiwan from the United States and Eastern Asia between March 8-18, with records for seeking medical attention to carry out virus screening and immediately include them into home quarantine. 
(V) The CECC continually updates its “Recommendations  for COVID-19 Case Definition, Specimen Collection, and Diagnostic Tests” to ensure the national testing criteria correlates with the most updated epidemiological investigation outcomes. Additionally, physicians are asked to report immediately cases that cannot be excluded for COVID-19 to carry out testing. 
(VI) The decision over whether or not to carry out mass testing: according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, MOHW there is still some community spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan. Moreover, considering that the efficacy of mass testing is not as high as other countries that are already in large-scale community infections, the CECC prioritizes blocking and preventing the appearance of community infection. Refinements in epidemic investigations make it possible to precisely pinpoint individual cases that require testing . On the other hand, the CECC also forges precise strategic testing for effective disease prevention and control by analyzing the community prevalence rate, sensitivity and specificity of testing methods, cost-benefit analysis and other scientific evidence. 
 

Scientific evidence does not support mass screening for COVID-19 in Taiwan.

 
 

Mass screening is not a cost-effective strategy.


 

III. Speeding up research and development of relevant test reagents and rapid test kits:

(I) As national and international experts and scholars have predicted the likelihood of COVID-19 progressing into an influenza-like infection, the CECC has set up an additional research and development team to tackle five major aspects accordingly: screening, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, prediction models and technical support platform to carry out research and development work division and integration. In addition, CECC collaborates with the national specimen database to offer usage upon application by national industries, research, and medical fields. Co-operation with the Biosafety level-3 laboratory (BSL-3) is also being done to contribute in the testing of virus, pseudo-specimens, specimens and viral plaque inhibitory tests. Apart from disease prevention research over the severe factors that influences the disease to help with finding the right treatment regime, more effective means in assisting the development of vaccine and quick testing kits are done through the analysis of antibody concentration evolution. 
(II) The MOHW also plans to develop standardized formulas for screening and quick testing kits for companies to carry out efficacy evaluation of nucleic acid amplification products, in the hopes of propelling early phases of clinical trial progress and allowing the outcomes to be submitted for registration inspection as part of the documents for evaluation. Currently, there is already one nationally produced product (GeneReach nucleic acid test kit) that has completed clinical evaluation and being marketed. The test kit requires 85 minutes to achieve test results and has finished clinical trials, with both sensitivity and specificity over 95%, and is now ready for the next step in manufacturing. 

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  • Created:2020-05-14
  • Last Updated:2020-07-24
  • Data Source:Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Count Views:715
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