Taiwan's government raised the novel coronavirus alert level in Taipei and New Taipei in the north Saturday as the island confirmed 185 new COVID-19 cases Friday.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung told reporters in Taipei the raised level for the two cities requires people to wear masks outside homes and bans indoor gatherings of five or more people.

Food shelves are almost empty at a supermarket in Taipei on May 15, 2021, as shoppers flock there following health authorities' announcement of tighter anti-coronavirus measures. (Kyodo)

The alert for the cities will be in effect until May 28, according to the government.

Taiwan, which had succeeded in containing the spread of the virus, has recently seen a surge of domestically transmitted cases. The island has confirmed a total 1,475 cases and 12 deaths.

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