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
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Face masks are a significant factor in reducing the spread of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), with the odds of transmitting the disease dropping by up to 99 percent if both infected and non-infected persons wear masks, according to Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳).
During the CECC's daily afternoon press conference on Saturday (May 2), Chang said that he received many questions from the public about why Taiwan was so successful in limiting the spread of coronavirus, including in hospitals. Chang said that it all boils down to the wearing of masks by both persons infected with the disease and healthy individuals.
Chang said if people infected with coronavirus wear a face mask, the number of droplets released through sneezing, coughing, exhaling, speaking, etc... is reduced by 70 to 80 percent. Likewise, if a healthy person wears a face mask, the amount of such droplets inhaled from carriers will also be reduced by 70 to 80 percent.
He then estimated that when both parties are wearing a mask, the chance of transmission drops down to just one or two percent. However, he conceded that there is not yet any scientific data to support his theory.
Read more: Taiwan News
Taipei, May 4 (CNA) The government will provide a one-time grant of NT$10,000 (US$336) to workers not enrolled in social insurance plans and farmers and fishermen who have not qualified for other forms of financial aid to counter the economic impact of COVID-19.
Among those eligible are an estimated 340,000 people who work but do not participate in labor insurance, farmer's insurance, or different public worker insurance programs and have family incomes between 1.5 times to 2 times the average minimum living costs in their city or county, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Monday.
They include people who hold street billboards or outdoor ad placards, street vendors, and small-scale self-employed workers, and they were able to get access to the funds beginning Monday, according to Su.
Under a previous version of the program, middle-to-low income earners whose family income was less than 1.5 times the average minimum living costs in their city or county were eligible for a one-time payment of NT$30,000.
In addition to those 340,000 workers, about 1.4 million farmers and fishermen whose annual income is less than NT$500,000 and were not eligible for a NT$30,000 grant can apply for the NT$10,000 grant starting from May 11, said Council of Agriculture (COA) chief Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲).
At present, some 150,000 fishermen covered by labor insurance with a registered monthly salary under NT$24,000 and an annual income of less than NT$400,000 are eligible for a one-time payment of NT$30,000, but none of Taiwan's more than 1 million farmers are.
That means all farmers and the other 200,000 fishermen covered by the farmers' insurance program or without insurance coverage can apply for the NT$10,000 payment, Chen said.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Taiwan has placed a temporary export ban on 75 percent alcohol hand sanitizers and disinfectants, effective Friday, a day after the temporary ban on face mask exports was extended, according to the Bureau of Foreign Trade.
The decision was made to ensure that demand in Taiwan can be met as shortages of such items as face masks, protective clothing, and alcohol sanitizers continue to plague governments around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bureau said Friday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) felt it was necessary to put export restrictions on the two products following a recent evaluation of Taiwan's inventory, a bureau official said, without elaborating.
Starting Friday, people in Taiwan cannot send these items overseas unless they have prior authorization from the MOHW, the official said.
It will also be up to the MOHW to determine when the restriction is to be lifted depending on how the disease progresses in Taiwan. No new COVID-19 cases were reported for a sixth consecutive day on Friday.
On Thursday, the trade bureau announced it was extending a temporary export ban on textile-based masks and those for surgical use that exceed 94 percent filtration efficiency, with the restriction effective from Friday to June 30.
The restrictions on mask exports had originally been set to expire on April 30.
Source: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Taiwan researchers on Friday gave a demonstration of a new system that will allow doctors and other healthcare personnel to remotely monitor the health of hospital patients with highly contagious diseases like the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The technology, developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH), is designed for greater efficiency and less risk among the doctors and nurses treating such patients, Cheng Jen-chieh (鄭仁傑), director of the ITRI's Service Systems Technology Center, said during the demonstration at TMUH.
The system works by using cameras and infrared sensors to monitor the color changes in a patient's facial capillaries and their chest movements as they breathe, Cheng said, according to a TMUH press release.
Using artificial intelligence algorithms, it converts that data to give a read out of the patient's heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, he said.
Those vital signs are then transmitted to an electronic whiteboard in the nurses' station and alerts them to any changes in the patient's condition, Cheng said.
If any abnormalities are detected, doctors and other healthcare workers can use the system's videoconferencing feature to have consultations with the patient, he said.
Patients, meanwhile, can access their vital data in real time via a cellphone app, according to the ITRI.
By making the process contact-free, hospital medical professionals will be able to work more efficiently and to significantly reduce their risk of exposure to highly contagious diseases, according to ITRI Executive Vice President Chang Pei-zen (張培仁).
At present, hospital healthcare workers enter the quarantine rooms of COVID-19 patients 12-15 times a day, he said.
Each time, the medical staff members have to don protective gear, a process that takes about 20 minutes, and on leaving the room, they have to carefully remove and dispose of the protective equipment, Chang said.
The remote treatment system, designed by ITRI, TMUH and four private companies, has been installed at TMUH, but no details were available on how widely it will be used in Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Taiwan's military vessels will soon be equipped with quick Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, a method for rapidly diagnosing COVID-19, to prevent cluster spreading of the coronavirus, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Sunday.
Chen, who also heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), made the announcement at a daily press briefing, following a recent cluster infection on board the Panshi Fast Combat Support Ship, part of a flotilla that carried out a goodwill mission to diplomatic ally Palau in March.
"After discussions with the defense ministry, we have decided to provide military ships with quick PCR tests," Chen said, adding that it is difficult to detect the virus on a long-range mission, especially without the necessary equipment.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 2 (CNA) The viral transmission of COVID-19 has been found to be highest within a week of the onset of symptoms, according to a medical study authored by a Taiwanese research team published by the American Medical Association Friday.
The research paper "Contact Tracing Assessment of COVID-19 Transmission Dynamics in Taiwan and Risk at Different Exposure Periods Before and After Symptom Onset" was authored by six medical researchers for the Taiwan COVID-19 Outbreak Investigation Team and published in the monthly peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The paper, which collected data from Jan. 15 to March 18 with a final follow up date on April 2, followed Taiwan's first 100 confirmed patients and 2,761 of their close contacts to determine transmissibility of the coronavirus before and immediately after symptom onset.
The findings indicated that the infection rate was higher among contacts whose exposure to index cases started within five days of symptom onset compared with those who were exposed later.
Contacts with exclusive pre-symptomatic exposure were also at risk, the paper showed.
The infection rate was higher among household and non-household family contacts relative to health care settings, the paper showed, adding that the rates were also higher among those aged 40 or older.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Taiwan's relatively low COVID-19 transmission rate can be attributed to the fact that a majority of people in the country wear face masks in public, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said on Saturday.
The risk of catching or infecting others with the coronavirus disease can be greatly reduced if people habitually wear face masks, Chang said at a daily briefing in Taipei.
A healthy person is less likely to catch a respiratory infection simply by wearing a face mask, which typically filters out as much as 70-80 percent of aerosol particles, he said.
The same can be said for a sick person wearing one, which has proven to be an effective barrier to curb aerosol spread, he added.
It is for this reason that Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, keeps reminding the public to wear face masks especially in crowded places, the CECC official explained.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese Minister of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Shen Jong-Chin (沈榮津) said Wednesday (April 29) that the government is planning to invest NT$50 million (US$167 million) in developing 100 ventilator prototypes for patients in critical condition.
During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan, Shen said the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shined a light on the scarcity of indigenously produced ventilators in the island country. Although Taiwan has set up several production lines for surgical masks, it has yet to be able to produce its own emergency ventilators.
Shen said the ventilators Taiwan currently possesses are mainly for treating patients with sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. He pointed out that most of the ventilators used on Taiwan's intensive care patients, including those infected with COVID-19, have been purchased from overseas, which is why the government needs its own.
The economic minister explained that the government has enough invasive ventilators right now to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and that the development of prototypes is only a precautionary measure suggested by medical experts. He said the MOEA has acquired all necessary documents to launch the project and that local ventilator companies have agreed to build 100 prototypes and test them before mass production, reported CNA.
Source: Taiwan News
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