Taiwan’s recent outbreak of Covid-19 is ebbing, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said, urging residents to continue following restrictions closely to help bring the pandemic under control.

In today’s press briefing on the pandemic, Chen announced that the reproduction number for the virus stands at 1.02, from the peak of 15 on May 15. The figure shows that an infected person will, on average, transmit the virus to 1.02 other people, explained Chuang Jen-hsiang, spokesperson for the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Experts believe an R count above one reflects an outbreak that is growing increasingly difficult to contain, and below one means that it is shrinking.

“We have raised the alert level for Covid-19 to Level 3 on May 19 and the situation is coming under control now,” Chen said. “The sacrifices and efforts that everyone has made have been effective.” The Level 3 alert for the pandemic, one level short of a full lockdown, is slated to be in place nationwide until June 14.

Under the alert, mask wearing in public is required and non-essential businesses and venues will be ordered to close their doors to customers. All outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and more than five people are not allowed to assemble indoors.

Chuang said the pandemic is showing signs of “reversing” in Taiwan, with the effective reproduction number for the virus steadily declining. “We have seen that the number of confirmed cases has been declining and the R count is likely to drop below one tomorrow,” he said.

The CECC today announced 278 cases of Covid-19 from yesterday's testing, including four imported cases and 15 deaths.

For more than two weeks, Taiwan's government has recorded triple digit cases of the virus every day. The command center has been revising the daily case counts of the past few days due to a delay in testing, raising the numbers to 514, 371, 342 for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, respectively.

To date, more than 100 people have died of Covid-19 in Taiwan, most of whom had been infected since the recent outbreak began. One of the current priorities for the government, according to Chen, is to reduce the possibility for patients to fall severely ill.

“We will continue to buy Covid-19 treatments to lower the number of critically ill patients,” Chen said, adding that it will reduce the number of deaths from the virus and ease pressure on the healthcare system.

For residents, personal responsibility remains the key to helping curtail the spread of infections. “Everyone needs to keep following the restrictions under the Level 3 alert,” Chen said. “Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.”

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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