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Taiwan warns of Covid vaccine delays

2021-06-08 HKT 15:11
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  • Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung says he hopes 10 million doses of vaccine will reach Taiwan by the end of August. File photo: AFP
    Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung says he hopes 10 million doses of vaccine will reach Taiwan by the end of August. File photo: AFP
Taiwan's health minister warned on Tuesday of further delays to getting more Covid-19 vaccines but said the government was doing all it could to get them, as he reported a stabilisation of new infections.

Taiwan has been struggling to speed up its vaccination programme while it deals with a spike in domestic cases, with only about three percent of its 23.5 million people having received at least one shot.

The government had said it aimed to get 2 million more doses by the end of this month, apart from an almost similar number donated by Japan and the United States, but Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said there were problems getting the vaccines.

"In fact, purchases are not so stable, but we will continue working hard," he told his daily news conference, pointing to production problems at factories.

"We hope that by the end of August, 10 million vaccines will reach Taiwan," Chen added, reiterating a previous timetable.

Taiwan has 10 million doses on order from AstraZeneca and more than 5 million from Moderna, plus about another 5 million from the Covax global sharing scheme.

Chen announced 219 new domestic Covid-19 cases, slightly up from the 211 reported on Monday, and said positive rates during tests were continuing to fall in the capital, Taipei, and its neighbouring city where cases have been concentrated.

"This is quite a good phenomenon," he said. "However there is no cause to relax."

Taiwan has a long holiday this weekend for the traditional Dragon Boat festival, and the government has been urging people to stay put and return train or bus tickets they might have already bought.

"I continue to call on people to avoid moving around during the Dragon Boat festival," Chen said.

Taiwan has reported a total of 11,694 case since the pandemic began, including 308 deaths, which, while far fewer than many other parts of the world, has shocked people in Taiwan which for months had no or very few community infections. (Reuters)