The democratically run island off the coast of China, widely praised as a success for handling Covid-19, reported 335 new cases on Monday – a record one-day rise. All but two are transmitted locally, the island’s Central Epidemic Center (CECC) said.
According to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control, 155 of the 158 cases in the capital Taipei are related to teapots for hosts.
Monday’s figures follow a record 207 new cases reported on Sunday.
Taiwanese authorities imposed new social distancing measures on Saturday, closing bars, clubs and gyms around the island and limiting indoor gatherings in Taipei and surrounding New Taipei City to five people. In Taipei, people are required to wear masks outdoors ̵
1; failing to do so is punishable by a fine of 3,000 to 15,000 new Taiwan dollars ($ 107 to $ 535).
All schools and kindergartens in Taipei and New Taipei will be closed for two weeks from Tuesday, and several local councils have also been suspended.
The measures are in response to “the growing level of community transmission, shown by cases of unknown sources of infection, as well as cluster infections in Taipei and New Taipei,” the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control said in a news release.
The leader of the self-governing island of Tsai Ying-wen called on residents to follow the instructions and ensure that people around them remain safe and healthy.
Last week, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shihchung said the island was in “critical condition,” according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency (CNA).
The CNA said the outbreak was first discovered among pilots, but there have been cases in the community since then. Taiwan is currently reporting a number of clusters, including cases involving tea house hosts in Taipei and an entertainment arcade in the northeastern city of Yilan.
The jump in cases has caused some concern in Taiwan, prompting some residents to rush to get vaccinated, CNA reported. After weeks of concern about the low level of vaccination, Chen said he was now worried that stocks could run out, CNA reported.
The island has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with less than 1% of its population of 23 million sown, according to data collected by CNN. Currently, the elderly, medical staff and other emergency or high-risk workers, as well as diplomats, police, care workers and some other professions are eligible for vaccination under the government program.
The current outbreak on Covid-19 Island is relatively small compared to those in other parts of the world, but is an unfamiliar situation for Taiwan, which has so far managed to avoid a major jump in cases.
Taiwan has reported 2017 confirmed cases and 12 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control.
This won the island’s praise for handling the virus, with Bloomberg placing Taiwan in fifth place in its Covid resistance ranking, which reports deaths, cases and vaccination rates. The Australian Lowy Institute ranked Taiwan’s pandemic response third, behind Bhutan and New Zealand.
Last year, the island passed more than 250 days without reporting a local incident.
Taiwan’s success was due in part to strict border rules that have banned almost all non-residents from entering the island since March last year.
The island also requires quarantine of incoming passengers, although the rules are more lenient for flight crews.
Health and Welfare Minister Chen said last week that Taiwan would quarantine all active pilots working for Taiwanese carrier China Airlines for 14 days amid a Covid-19 outbreak among flight crews and hotel staff.
Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously reported the number of daily new cases of coronavirus reported in Taiwan on Monday. This is 335.
Additional reports from journalist Andrew Lee in Taipei and Akanksha Sharma from CNN and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong.