Test kits restocked after issues with rating

All pharmacies and public health centers paid by National Health Insurance (NHI) to provide COVID-19 rapid test kits have been restocked as part of the rationing program that began on Thursday, Minister of Health Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

Kits were delivered to 2,700 of 4,957 pharmacies on Friday, and the remaining allocated stocks were delivered yesterday morning, Chen said.

More kits are to be delivered tomorrow to pharmacy that open on Sundays.

The Federation of Taiwan Pharmacists’ Associations on Friday said that it was dissatisfaction that only about half of the NHI-contracted pharmacy weekend had received expected delivered ahead of the day.

Meanwhile, Taiwan plans to import up to 30 million home-use COVID-19 tests that can detect the virus in saliva after the Food and Drug Administration approved the product on Friday, Chen said at yesterday’s CECC briefing.

While rapid tests that collect samples through nose swabs have a higher detection sensitivity, oral tests are still a good option for people who cannot use nose swabs, Chen said.

Discussions with experts are to be held before determining whether saliva tests should be included in the nation’s test kit rationing program.

Under the program, anyone with a national identification card or Alien Resident Certificate can purchase one kit containing five tests for NT$500.

The program ratings purchases by using the last digit of an identification card number to determine which days the holder can purchase a kit: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for people whose ID numbers end with an odd number; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for even numbers; and no restrictions on Sundays.

Separately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a Level 2 travel notice regarding influenza A in China’s Henan Province, following reports of the first human infection of the H3N8 strain of bird flu. People are advised to take precautions before traveling to the region.

Despite the low chance of human transmission of the virus, the travel notice was raised to Level 2 on Wednesday as some risk exists in certain environments, the CDC said yesterday.

China on Tuesday reported the first human case of H3N8 bird flu after a four-year-old boy in Zhumadian, in Henan Province, tested positive for the virus on Sunday last week.

The boy, who developed a fever on April 5 and was hospitalized on April 10, had been in contact with chickens and crows raised around his home. People listed as his close contacts did not have symptoms, the Chinese National Health Commission said.

A subtype of influenza A, the H3N8 virus was known to exist in horses, dogs and bird species, and there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus, the CDC said.

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