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CECC to report on effectiveness of Level 3 COVID-19 alert next week

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The daily number of tests and positivity rates. Graphic courtesy of New Taipei City government
Taipei, May 29 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) plans to review the effectiveness of the current Level 3 COVID-19 alert over the weekend and will report its conclusions to the public early next week, according to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

Chen, who also heads the CECC, said at a press conference on Friday that a trend had yet to emerge in the recent outbreak, despite the imposition of the strict nationwide virus control measures on May 19, which included closing of schools and public venues and restricting indoor gatherings to no more than 5 people and outdoor getogethers to a maximum of 10 persons, as well as advising people to stay home.

The CECC "will analyze the (status of the outbreak) in the coming days, and will likely report its conclusions to the public next Monday or Tuesday," Chen said.

Meanwhile, Chen expressed support for preparations that Taipei and New Taipei cities are making for lockdowns under a potential Level 4 alert, saying that "having a plan is never a bad thing."

However, the cities' most urgent task is to ensure that they have adequate testing capacity and that COVID-19 patients quarantining at home can quickly receive medical treatment if their condition worsens, he said.

He made the remarks after Taipei City announced that it planned to hold "war games" to simulate a situation in which a Level 4 alert was announced.

According to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the preparations will involve the drafting of contingency plans, testing of the plans via simulated "tabletop exercises," and real-world drills by the relevant epidemic prevention personnel.

"This doesn't mean that we will enter into a lockdown, but it means that the situation is tense," Ko said.

"We've managed to flatten the curve in (outbreak hotspot) Wanhua District, but (the virus) is still slowly spreading in other districts," he added.

As of Saturday, both New Taipei and Taoyuan cities had also announced that they were making logistical preparations for the the possibility of a Level 4 alert, in which people would only be allowed to leave their home for essential activities, such as grocery shopping.

Meanwhile, the New Taipei City government released new data on Friday on its community COVID-19 testing centers.

Since their launch on May 17, the city said, the sites have carried out a total of 14,907 tests and recorded an average positivity rate of 3.2 percent.

On average, more than 1,000 people were tested from May 21 to May 23, with the number rising to over 2,000 from Monday through Thursday, the data showed.

The testing stations reported positivity rates of around 4 percent from May 22 to May 24, followed by 2.9 percent on Tuesday, 2.1 percent on Wednesday and 3.0 percent on Thursday, the city said.

New Taipei City has reported 2,887 locally-transmitted COVID-19 infections between April 26 and May 28, accounting for nearly half of Taiwan's total 6,136 domestic cases as of Friday.

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