TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is joining hands with Stanford University in the U.S. to design a mechanism for effective testing and quarantine as the island country prepares to relax travel restrictions next month.
The collaboration involves Stanford University School of Medicine sending 500 people from San Francisco to Taipei, where they will undergo testing every two days in a 14-day quarantine period. These individuals must test negative for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and be placed under quarantine prior to their flights to Taiwan, reported the Financial Times.
The aim of the experiment is to work out the shortest possible isolation requirement for travelers, instead of the two-week rule currently being applied by most countries, said Jason Wang, a professor at Stanford Medical School who is participating in the project. Details of the scheme are being hammered out, said Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an infectious disease doctor and member of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Read more: Taiwan News
MANILA, Philippines — Unknown to many, a raw material sourced from a type of banana plant, Musa textilis, is now in high demand due to the global shortage of one of the most important tools against the coronavirus pandemic — personal protective equipment (PPE).
Locally known as abaca, it has been one of the country’s top traditional cash crops for decades, along with sugar and tobacco, and appears to be making a comeback as the world rushes to produce more PPE.
“Before COVID-19, face masks, gowns, shoe covers, head covers and PPE only represented less than 1 percent of the total annual abaca production in the Philippines,” said Kennedy Costales, executive director of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Philfida).
According to the official, abaca’s unique, porous fibers are ideal for making medical fabric. As such, the crop has rapidly become a prized commodity as governments all over the world try to stop the spread of COVID-19 without a vaccine, armed only with masks and PPE to save lives.
“With the new normal, demand for face masks will spike exponentially worldwide. PPE are just one of the hundred end products of the precious abaca plant,” Costales added.
Read more: Inquirer
Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Taipei MRT passengers traveling on the Bannan Line can get information about the crowd situation in each carriage from Friday to prevent large crowds from flocking to specific areas of the trains, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. (TRTC) said Thursday.
Passengers can check either the Mandarin version of the "Go! Taipei Metro" app at https://apps.apple.com/tw/app/台北捷運go/id997212021 or simply watch the station platform TV screens to find out about the crowd situation on all six carriages of each train, the TRTC said.
There will be four colored indicators showing how crowded the carriages are -- with green suggesting comfortable, yellow average, orange moderate and red crowded -- the company said.
But there will be no such information provided at either Dingpu Station or the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Station, as they are the terminals at each end of the line, TRTC said.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taoyuan, May 7 (CNA) State-run Taoyuan General Hospital said Thursday it successfully used blood purification techniques to treat a patient suffering from complications of COVID-19, though a government expert cautioned more research is needed to determine the overall efficacy of the treatment.
At a press conference, nephrologist Wang Wei-chieh (王偉傑) said his team used the techniques to inhibit an extreme immune response -- known as a "cytokine storm" -- which often causes death in severe COVID-19 patients.
The patient in question was a 52-year-old woman who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 15, Wang said.
On March 24, she was intubated after developing severe respiratory symptoms, and transferred to a negative-pressure isolation room two days later, he said.
From March 30-April 1, Wang said, the woman was treated using a combination of two blood purification techniques: plasmapheresis, which involves the removal, treatment and return of blood plasma, and continuous renal replacement treatment, a type of 24-hour dialysis.
The purpose of the treatments, according to Wang, was to clear the patient's body of cytokines -- proteins secreted during an immune response, which attack the perceived threat and cause localized inflammation.
The overproduction of cytokines can cause hyperinflammation in the lungs or other affected organs, leading to death.
According to Wang, the patient's condition improved after the treatments.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 7 (CNA) A rapid antibody test kit for COVID-19 developed by a local biomedical company that can deliver results in just 10 minutes has passed clinical trials and is ready for mass production, a company official said Thursday.
The rapid test kit for the detection of antibodies of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been validated by a comprehensive clinical study conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH). The test boasts 100 percent sensitivity and 95 percent specificity, said Cooky Chen (陳作範), chairman of Excelsior Bio-System, Inc., at an event for the presentation of the results.
The method of testing is similar to that of a pregnancy test, which uses two red lines to indicate results. Two lines indicate that the test is positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which usually means people have had COVID-19, according to project manager Hsieh Szu-min (謝思民), an infectious disease specialist from NTUH.
Through the clinical trials, the hospital provides references to the company, including methods of execution and conducting of the testing, and offers SARS-CoV-2-positive patient samples and negative samples it has collected during the pandemic for a double-blind study to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the test, Hsieh said.
The test kit was successful in detecting antibodies in 13 COVID-19 patients, Hsieh said, adding that the test therefore has a sensitivity of 100 percent.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Taiwan gains attention worldwide for taking swift action to protect its citizens from the coronavirus, such as by assembling 90 mask production lines within three months, the island country's advancements in combining artificial intelligence (AI) with robotics, designed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, also deserve the spotlight.
Temp-checking Robot "Ayuda"
To reduce the risk of frontline medical staff contracting the virus, The Syscom Group has improved its robots by enabling them to measure body temperatures and remind people to put on a mask. The machines' temperature scanners will sound the alarm when hospital visitors or employees with a fever (above 37.5 degrees Celcius) pass by.
Developed and manufactured in Taiwan, the temp-taking robots can perform multiple tasks, such as identifying and tracking faces, ticket printing, remote monitoring, video conferencing, and working as a tour guide.
Read more: Taiwan News
Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Recovered COVID-19 patients who test positive again for the disease are "almost not contagious" due to the low level of the virus in their bodies and thus pose little threat to the community, a Taiwanese epidemiologist said Tuesday.
Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an advisor to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), gave that assessment when asked at a daily press briefing how many COVID-19 patients had tested positive again after being discharged and if they were still infectious and could spread the disease.
Chang said that among Taiwan's 438 confirmed COVID-19 cases, there have been four cases in which they were initially discharged after testing negative for the disease three times but then returned to the hospital with renewed symptoms and were tested again.
The results for some of the four were sometimes negative and sometimes positive, making it very difficult for medical experts to determine if they should be treated again for the disease, he said.
Doctors eventually considered the patients COVID-19 positive and isolated and treated the patients again as a precaution, Chang said.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 6) -- Overseas Filipino workers and other passengers flying in from abroad will be allowed entry to the country beginning Friday — or earlier than originally announced — an official said.
In a public briefing Wednesday, National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez said all inbound passengers will be accommodated starting May 8, as the temporary restrictions on flights will be lifted.
"Pero i-lilimit lang po natin to 400 to 500 po, para at least, kayang-kaya po nating i-manage," Galvez said.
[Translation: But we will limit it to 400 to 500 passengers, so we will be able to manage them.]
The Department of Transportation earlier announced the suspension of international inbound passenger flights from May 3 to 9 on Galvez' request.
Meanwhile, the Task Force chief implementer maintained that the government has not imposed limitations on outbound flights.
Earlier, he explained that the moratorium was imposed to ramp up the capacity of the government to properly process the growing number of Filipinos being brought home on a daily basis.
Read more: CNN Philippines
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese vaccine manufacturer Adimmune Corporation (國光生技) announced Monday (May 4) that one of the company's candidate vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been proven effective in animal trials.
According to Adimmune, the animal testing was orchestrated by Chang Sui-Yuan (張淑媛), a professor at the National Taiwan University (NTU) Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Medical Biotechnology. The company said Chang and her team have applied the vaccine to coronavirus-infected laboratory mice and found that the mice have developed neutralizing antibody titration of the deadly virus.
Read more: Taiwan News
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said Monday (May 4) that the stimulus coupons issued by the government to help revive Taiwan's economy will come in both electronic and physical forms.
Prior to his report on the project at the Legislative Yuan, Shen pointed out that the updated version of the stimulus coupons will allow Taiwanese citizens to choose between hard copies, electronic payments, or electronic stored-value cards. He told the media that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) received complaints about the inconvenience of the original coupon design and has thus decided to adopt a more flexible approach to distributing them.
As part of a campaign to counter the effects of the ongoing pandemic on the country's economy, the government announced in late February that it would provide NT$2 billion (US$66 million) worth of coupons to be used at night markets, shops, and restaurants.
However, originally, each individual would have to spend at least NT$4,000 (US$134) before they could use an NT$1,000 coupon. Shen said that the MOEA has made a slight change since February and that individuals will now be able to enjoy an NT$500 discount with each NT$1,000 that they spend, reported Liberty Times.
Shen said he was aware that many industries nationwide had urged the government to expedite the coupons. With Taiwan going 21 straight days without recording a single local case of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the economic minister predicted that the coupons could be distributed as early as the end of May if the pandemic situation remains under control, reported CNA.
Source: Taiwan News
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