TAIPEI - Taiwan said on Tuesday that all schools would close until the end of next week, shifting classes online while the island tackles a spike in COVID-19 cases, even as the rate of increase slowed slightly.
Taiwan has reported almost 1,000 new domestic infections during the past week, leading to new curbs in the capital, Taipei, and shocking a population that had become accustomed to life carrying on almost normally, with the pandemic well under control.
Education Minister Pan Wen-chung told reporters that starting Wednesday, all schools across the island would be closed until May 28, with classes held online.
Speaking at the same news conference, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung announced 240 new domestic COVID-19 cases, down from the 333 reported on Monday. He also announced two new deaths, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 14.
Chen cautioned that the smaller increase in cases did not mean the virus had been brought under control.
"We don't view this with optimism," he added.
However, Chen said, most of the cases being reported were mild ones.
The government says those with mild infections or who are asymptomatic can recover at home under quarantine.
The domestic cases have been concentrated in northern Taiwan and are connected to an earlier outbreak among pilots and a hotel at Taipei's main international airport, though the government is not sure of the exact chain of transmission.
Taiwan has reported a total of 2,260 infections since the start of the pandemic.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gerry Doyle) ((email@example.com;))