Taiwan battles Covid infection spike as it continues to re-open borders
Taiwan is currently Asia’s Covid-19 hotspot, following years of keeping the Covid variants at bay. The island-nation’s relaxation of travel curbs has fuelled a record spike in new infections.
Taiwan began the process of prying open its borders in March, initially allowing business and essential travellers to enter the island. They were welcomed with quarantine in a hotel or state quarantine facility for at least 10 days but this was cut to just 7 days in early May. The plan was to ease that even further in the next few weeks.
But Covid cases started to skyrocket as the island re-opened, hitting a high of 94,855 new infections recorded last Friday. Then 88,237 cases yesterday and 76,986 today. The total has now topped 2 million for a country with 23.5 million people.
But the island is committed to re-opening its borders, following the lead of other Asian nations, even Japan which is now allowing tourists to re-enter from 98 countries without any on-arrival testing. Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore have also accelerated their re-opening plans in recent months.
Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang says this island “will ease border controls to get on the same page as the international community and return life to normal”.
The country’s politicians are now coping with a current tug-of-war, with the re-opening proceeding, but urging people to travel or go out and discouraging getting together with groups. Taiwan has now downgraded its economic forecast for GDP in 2022 to 3.9% from 4.4%.
The country is also keen to get its vital semiconductor industry operating again at full speed, and allowing business travellers to re-engage with the world’s largest manufacturer of semi-conductors and computer chips.
As neighbouring China continues to reel from its stringent, if not impossible, zero-Covid policy, Taiwan is keen to make a success of its re-opening plans, despite the current hike in infections.
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