Taiwan's Covid-19 cases soar past 10,000 in key test of safe haven

The dramatic increase is the first major challenge to Taiwan's Covid-19 strategy. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - Taiwan's Covid-19 cases spiked sharply to more than 10,000 on Thursday (April 28), more than doubling in a matter of days, even as the government seeks to avoid imposing widespread restrictions that could harm the economy.

The number of domestic infections rose to 11,353, health minister Chen Shih-chung said at a briefing in Taipei on Thursday. That's up from 5,108 on Monday and 2,969 a week ago, according to government data.

The dramatic increase is the first major challenge to Taiwan's Covid-19 strategy. Through a mixture of tight border controls, quarantine measures and contact tracing, health authorities managed to stamp out all previous outbreaks. The arrival of the highly-infectious Omicron variant has made it more difficult to contain, however, leading to surges in places including China and Hong Kong that had also previously kept the pathogen at bay.

Taiwan has been one of the safest places in the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, with fewer than 850 deaths. Nearly 80 per cent of the population has had two vaccines, while about 57 per cent have had a third dose, as of Wednesday.

The government has been slowly shifting away from its earlier strategy of trying to eliminate all cases, and instead largely allowing life to continue as normal while still trying to prevent uncontrolled spread.

While mandatory quarantine remains for those who have come into contact with a confirmed case, officials shortened the length of isolation to three days for those who test negative.

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