Taiwan reported 98 new domestic Covid-19 infections on Friday, as the government raced to contain an outbreak at a Taipei food wholesale market.
Mass testing and quarantines have been rushed into action at the site, reports Reuters.
Taiwan has been dealing with a cluster of community infections since mid-May, but numbers had begun stabilising in recent weeks and are still comparatively low despite the outbreak at the market.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters the market has been closed for at least three days, and there were likely to be more infections confirmed as the results of tests came through.
Chen announced 57 new domestic cases, but said 41 cases at the market had yet to be included in the official tally. Taipei’s city government only confirmed those cases early Friday morning.
The market is in Taipei’s Wanhua district, a hot spot where many of the initial infections in May were first reported.
Most of Taiwan’s infections have been of the Alpha variant but a small outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant in southern Taiwan has so far been brought under control, with Chen describing that outbreak as “stable”.
Taiwan’s tally of infections stands at nearly 15,000 since the pandemic began, including 676 deaths.
The Taiwanese inoculation campaign received another boost this week after a further 410,000 shots were delivered from Moderna, the third such delivery from the US drugmaker.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said, “These will go a long way to ensuring those most in need are protected, as we continue our nationwide vaccination drive.”
Despite slow progress with regard to vaccinations, Tsai’s government has been unwilling to accept Chinese offers of assistance, although Chinese media has reported that many Taiwanese citizens have been vaccinated on the mainland.
The largest vaccine deliveries to date have both been donations. On June 4, Taiwan received 1.23 million AstraZeneca shots from Japan, with a further 2.5 million Moderna jabs delivered from the US on June 20.
The country also plans to roll out a domestically developed vaccine but no dates have been proposed.
To date, only around 8% of the Taiwanese population have received at least their first vaccine shot.