Adequate testing capacity and precisely locate potentially infected individuals
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:
(II) Currently, there are 263 designated testing facilities in Taiwan: North (113), Central (47), South (81), East (14) and offshore island (8). Taiwan now currently has a testing capacity of up to 236,113 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:
(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 (406 facilities) designated for specimen collection to provide easy access for the public to receive specialized evaluation and screening. Moreover, 53 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.
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.
1. Enhanced community surveillance;
2. Monitoring of specific high-risk workers at international airports/ports;
3. Waste water monitoring;
4. Surveillance on imported frozen food packaging at the border;
5. Investigations on prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among blood donors.
(VII) In order to expedite testing for individuals under isolation or quarantine and to take relevant epidemic prevention measures in a timely manner, the CECC Expert Advisory Committee passed a resolution on April 12, 2022, to replace PCR testing with rapid testing for people in isolation and quarantine. According to the resolution, such individuals should take rapid tests and report the results themselves. Individuals testing negative on rapid tests would be released from isolation or quarantine when their isolation or quarantine period expires. In consideration of the age limit on who can use at-home rapid test kits, the CECC decided to give children under two years of age who are under isolation/quarantine a PCR test instead of a rapid test. People who have difficulty using at-home rapid test kits on their own will receive rapid tests arranged and performed by local governments.
III. Speeding up research and development of relevant test reagents and rapid test kits:
(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.
- Last Updated:2022-07-12
- Data Source:Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare
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