TAIPEI – Taiwan’s health ministry will receive an extra T$79.2 billion ($2.87 billion) in spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including buying vaccines, the government said on Thursday, detailing a stimulus package approved this week.

Taiwan’s parliament approved on Monday an extra T$420 billion in spending to help the economy deal with the virus’ impact, as the island curbs business activity to counter a spike in domestic infections.

The new money is in addition to previous stimulus spending worth T$420 billion, and the funding will run until June 30 of next year.

Taiwan’s Cabinet said the money for the health ministry would go toward buying and testing vaccines, medicines and to help improve monitoring and testing for the virus.

Taiwan has millions of vaccines on order, but has so far only vaccinated about 3% of its 23.5 million people, mostly with just the first shot.

“This wave of the pandemic came quickly and urgently, affecting many families and industries,” Premier Su Tseng-chang told a news conference.

The Economy Ministry will get T$58.4 billion in extra money to help companies with salaries and loan financing, while other departments will get cash to help children studying at home, hotels and other affected companies and people.

The central bank is also running a separate T$400 billion programme to provide preferential loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

Taiwan’s government has repeatedly sought to allay fears that the current outbreak of domestic infections will affect the export-dependent economy, a major global supplier of semiconductors.

Taiwan’s stock market has largely shaken off concerns about the coronavirus impact after initially swooning.

Infections have been heavily concentrated in Taipei and its nearby cities, and although the numbers have not exploded they are also not falling dramatically.

Taiwan has reported 9,389 infections since the pandemic began, including 149 deaths. – Reuters