Taiwan's Health Minister contracts Covid-19, feeling fine

Taiwan has been dealing with a surge of Covid-19 cases, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung has contracted Covid-19, and is feeling fine and isolating at home, the government said on Sunday (June 12).

Taiwan has been dealing with a surge of Covid-19 cases since the start of the year, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant, though numbers are beginning to level off.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre, which Dr Chen is also the head of, said that on Sunday morning he began feeling symptoms and carried out a home test, which was positive.

Dr Chen has been the public face of the fight against Covid-19, appearing almost daily at news conferences.

While he is feeling fine, he will remain at home, and his position as head of the command centre will temporarily be taken over by Deputy Interior Minister Chen Tsung-yen, it added.

The two Chens are not related.

Taiwan's presidential office said President Tsai Ing-wen had not recently met with Health Minister Chen, instead speaking with him by telephone, and wished him a speedy recovery.

With more than 99 per cent of those infected with Covid-19 this year exhibiting no or mild symptoms, the government has relaxed rather than tightened restrictions in what it calls the "new Taiwan model".

On Saturday, the government said it would be reducing to three days from seven the mandatory quarantine for all arrivals into Taiwan as it looks to gradually fully re-open the borders.

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