Infant among Taiwan’s COVID fatalities as daily death toll reaches new high

Orange Wang, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jun 05 2022 07:40 AM

Taiwan has reported a new daily high in Covid-19 deaths, with a one-year-old child among the 152 new cases.

The island also reported more than 68,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as authorities assess whether to further ease some pandemic border restrictions this month.

The death toll surpassed the previous high of 145 fatalities reported on May 29, according to the island's Central Epidemic Command Centre.

The centre reported 68,118 new locally transmitted cases, of which 496 were moderate and severe - well above the previous single-day high of 468 reported on Monday.

Of the deaths reported on Saturday, the youngest was a one-year-old boy, who was hospitalised with congenital heart disease.

He was the 12th child under the age of 10 to have died with Covid-19 this year.

Command centre spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang said the boy had difficulty breathing and registered a low blood oxygen level on May 28. He tested positive for Covid-19 and was admitted into an intensive care unit that day.

Chuang said the boy was given medication, including antibiotics and the antiviral drug remdesivir, but died on Tuesday.

Taiwan has been battling a surge in Covid-19 cases since the end of April, testing the island's "living with Covid" policy.

The rise in deaths and severe cases comes as the Taiwanese government considers easing its pandemic border rules for incoming travellers.

The options include further shortening the quarantine period, phasing in cuts in quarantine for some travellers, and no longer requiring arrivals to leave the airport in designated taxis.

But the island will not be reopening to tourists, authorities say.

Business groups have been calling on Taipei to ease its border restrictions over the past few months, arguing that the existing approach is stifling economic activity and eroding the island's competitiveness.

Local media reported that the Ministry of Economic Affairs had been in talks with the command centre on some proposals from business groups.

In all, 87 of the 152 fatalities reported on Saturday were aged at least 80 and about 95 per cent overall had chronic illnesses or severe diseases, according to the centre. Just under half of those who died - 71 patients - were unvaccinated, and 97 patients did not complete three jabs.

Since the pandemic began in early 2020, Taiwan has reported 2.34 million cases and 2,815 deaths.

Covid-19 - including mainland restrictions to prevent its spread - has taken an economic toll on the island, with the indexes gauging the activity of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors falling to a roughly two-year low in May.

In contrast, mainland China has kept cases low with a combination of lockdowns, testing and contact tracing.

On Saturday, mainland health authorities reported 21 new locally transmitted cases and 55 local asymptomatic carriers.

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