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Bars in Taiwan’s capital close when COVID-19 infections spread

Taiwan reported a record increase in domestic COVID-19 cases on Friday with 29 new cases closing bars and nightclubs in the capital Taipei as community broadcasts in part of the city spread.

While Taiwan has reported only 1,291 cases, mainly imported from abroad, out of a population of approx. 24 million, a recent small increase in domestic infections has frightened residents and the stock market.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told a news conference that among the 29 new domestic infections, many were linked to an outbreak in Taipei’s Wanhua district, a mix of ancient temples, trendy shops and hostess bars.

Chen urged people who think they may have had contact with infected patients to go to rapid test stations set up by the government around Wanhua.

“The faster the test, the faster the transmission chain can be broken,” he added.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said bars, nightclubs, saunas and karaoke halls would close from Saturday.

The presidential office said an employee was quarantined after meeting family members who had eaten with someone who later tested positive, but added that President Tsai Ing-wen had not had contact with the person and was in good health.

The cluster of infections is linked to DNA sequencing with a previous outbreak at an airport hotel and pilots at Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines Ltd (2610.TW).

Premier Su Tseng-chang, who wrote on his Facebook page, said there is no need to raise the island’s COVID-19 alert level at the moment.

Comments from Chen on Wednesday that the alert level could soon be raised, which would potentially shut down all non-essential companies, led to a sharp drop in the stock market, and officials have since downplayed the chances of that happening.

Taiwan has never gone into full lock.

($ 1 = 27.9140 Taiwan dollars)

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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