Taiwan began administering the AstraZeneca vaccine today after it received nearly 120,000 does doses earlier this month through the World Health Organixation’s Covax problem.
Premier Su Tseng-chang and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung were some of the first in line this morning, according to Taiwanese media, and tried to calm any public anxiety about the vaccine’s safety in the wake of concerns in raised in Europe.
The vaccine is now available at 57 hospitals although priority will be given to health workers and people employed in quarantine facilities. Focus Taiwan reported that there are around 60,000 people on the immediate waiting list.
It is unclear when Taiwan will receive more doses of the vaccine although it has already agreed to buy 10 million doses of Astra Zeneca and another 10 million doses from Covax and Moderna.
For now, life remains relatively normal in Taiwan where there are no lockdown measures in place, although masks are required on public transit and in many public places.
The island, however, continues to receive imported cases from abroad, with 1,006 confirmedcases of Covid-19 as of Sunday, according to its Central Epidemic Command Center.
Travel restrictions remain stringent and anyone who travels to Taiwan is required to quarantine for 14 days and spend an additional seven days under “self-health management” avoiding crowded places.
The New Zealand government has held off on announcing a start date for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern says the government intends to announce a start date on 6 April.
She said there were a series of concerns that needed to be addressed before the bubble could be put in place, such as a response framework in the event of an outbreak in Australia, measures in place to contact trace travellers there, and regulatory mechanisms in place.
The National Party has been calling for a travel bubble with Australia to start immediately last week. It will reportedly be in place by the end of April.New Zealand’s borders have now been closed to most international visitors for a year.
The government intends to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the year, which Ardern said would move the country’s national Covid-19 defences away from a “collective barricade”.
New Zealand is exploring how to make its managed isolation and quarantine system more equitable after sustained demand.The booking system received 1m hits when vouchers for June and July were released, causing the website to crash.Radio New Zealand reports that the government is receiving 100 complaints a week about the system.
With people currently needing to reserve rooms about 16 weeks in advance, a waitlist is being considered to manage the demand.One Australia-based Kiwi likened the booking system to “fans fighting over concert tickets”.
Papua New Guinea has reported a record number of Covid-19 cases over the weekend as doctors warn that the hospital system is in the brink of being overwhelmed and more people could die outside emergency rooms.
The news came as a photograph of a woman who died outside the Port Moresby General Hospital went viral on social media causing outrage with fears the woman’s death was due to hospital being overwhelmed due to Covid-19.
Papua New Guinea announced 242 new Covid 19 cases on 20 March bringing the country’s total to 3,359 with 36 deaths. It follows a record 295 new cases on Friday, with the country reporting a seven-day average of 181 new cases a day in the week to 20 March: