Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Taiwan orders tough curbs as infections surge but economic outlook good

Taiwan's economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade in the first three months of 2021.

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Taiwan’s government has imposed its toughest restrictions so far, as the island tries to battle a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The authorities are shutting down cinemas and entertainment venues until 28 May, while limiting gatherings to five indoors and 10 outdoors.

President Tsai Ing-wen urged the public not to panic-buy basic necessities.

Taiwan – which has so far survived the pandemic almost unscathed – on Sunday reported 207 new infections.

The island of 23 million people has recorded 1,682 infections and 12 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Taiwan’s impressive success battling the coronavirus has been largely attributed to early and strict border controls, a ban on foreign visitors and mandatory quarantine for all Taiwanese returning home.

The government said masks must now be worn outdoors and urged people to work and study from home.

The capital Taipei remains the main infections hotspot, forcing the city authorities to raise the coronavirus alert there to Level 3.

Taiwan has four Covid-19 response levels, and the Level 3 alert stops just short of lockdown, local media say.

In addition, shoppers across the island are being restricted to buying just two items of some goods after supermarket shelves were emptied in recent days.

Tsai on Saturday warned that panic-buying would only increase the risk of Covid clusters.

Instant noodles and food in general, as well as toilet paper, was available in sufficient quantities and could easily be stored again by retailers, the president was quoted as saying by the Taiwan News.

The government said on Sunday that Taiwan’s economic prospects are bright and growth this year will come in as expected as long as the Covid-19 situation can be brought under control quickly, adding that so far the impact of the recent spike in cases was limited, Reuters is reporting.

Premier Su Tseng-chang and top economic officials all agreed the outlook was good.

Taiwan’s economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade in the first three months of 2021 as the “work from home” boom sparked strong global demand for the island’s hi-tech exports.

Taiwan’s manufacturers, such as the world’s largest contract chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, are a key part of the global supply chain for technology giants such as Apple.

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