As local cases continue to increase in Taiwan, so do calls to return the nation to epidemic alert level 3, however many in power continue to assure the public that it is under control.

Taiwan has recently been seeing an increase of local Covid-19 cases, and a massive increase of imported cases as well, as the Omicron variant has made its way around the world. At the beginning of 2020, Taiwan a massive local outbreak of the virus. Taiwan managed to control the spread through a combination of masking and phenomenal contact tracing. There were essentially 0 cases after getting it under control. This held until recently.

On the 18th of January there were 17 local cases for the second day in a row. This has led many to begin calling for a return to level 3. The prerequisite for this level is over 10 local cases of unknown origins or more than three cluster infections inside of a week. While the requirement for the former has certainly not been met as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has done a good job of contact tracing, the latter would depend on how you define cluster.

It is also possible for local governments to go to level 3 without the CECC doing so first. Some mayors such as New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) have been challenging the CECC on occasion. This might be to help boost their popularity, though it is difficult to say if this is likely to have the intended effect. While many believe that raising the level to 3 would help prevent further spread, others think that the situation is still under control.

Taiwan’s premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), has recently been asserting that the situation is still under control. This could be the case as essentially all of the cases are of known origins. The CECC could potentially get this outbreak under control very soon, just as they did last year, but that is yet to be seen. The task also seems more difficult as the Omicron variant seems to spread more quickly than previous iterations of covid.

If the number of local cases continues to trend up, it is likely that more and more calls will emerge to raise the threat level. However, if the CECC is able to get a handle on the situation, it is likely that such calls will subside with declining local infections.