Taipei, June 10 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Thursday that the live-fire component of this year's Han Kuang exercises has been postponed to September, due to the current COVID-19 situation in Taiwan.
Even then, “the itinerary and the number of participants in the drills will depend on the government's COVID-19 prevention protocols," the MND said in a statement.
In moving the 2021 Han Kuang live-fire exercises to September, priority is being given to preventing the spread of COVID-19, the ministry said.
The annual Han Kuang exercises, which were first held in 1984, involve tabletop and live-fire drills that test Taiwan’s capability to repel a possible military attack by China.
This year's tabletop drills were held April 23-30, with the aim of honing the decision-making and battle management skills of Taiwan’s military commanders.
The live-fire exercises, meanwhile, were scheduled to start July 12 and run for five days.
Military sources told CNA on May 24 that this year's live-fire drills would be conducted on a smaller scale and closed to media coverage, in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 cluster infections.
To date, Taiwan has confirmed 12,222 COVID-19 cases, more than 10,500 of which have been domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded over 100 cases in a single day.
Since May 15 when the domestic outbreak began to surge, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen sharply from 12 to 361, according to data from the Central Epidemic Command Center.