Taiwan reports first case of new UK coronavirus variant

Taiwan firms up AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, finds new UK variant

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo.

Taiwan has agreed to buy almost 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, including 10 million from AstraZeneca Plc, the government said on Wednesday, adding that it had confirmed the island's first case of the new British variant of the disease.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention and strict quarantine of all arrivals, with imported cases accounting for almost all its tally of 798, including seven deaths.

The island's Central Epidemic Command Centre said apart from AstraZeneca, it had agreed to buy 4.76 million doses from global vaccine programme COVAX, and was still in talks with another company it did not name.

The first vaccines are expected to arrive in March at the earliest, it added.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, being jointly developed with Oxford University, was approved by the British regulator on Wednesday, soon after Taiwan's announcement.

Taiwan plans to get a total of 30 million vaccine doses to cover about 65% of its population, the centre added.

Taiwan has watched nervously as cases shoot up around the world.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said authorities had confirmed Taiwan's first case of a new coronavirus variant discovered in Britain.

The victim is in hospital in stable condition after having arrived back on Sunday from Britain and confirmed to have been infected, Chen told reporters.

From Friday, the government will further tighten entry curbs, suspending arrivals of all foreigners without residence permits, he said.