Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday that it has identified more people who had contact with Taiwan's 24th confirmed case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a woman in her 60s, expanding its investigation to include 465 people, a greater number than before.
The patient tested positive for COVID-19 late Wednesday, nearly one month after displaying symptoms of illness.
The CECC on Friday said it was able to identify 352 people who came into contact with the female patient. But on Saturday, the health authority announced it was expanding the number to 465 after more people have been identified.
So far the only consolation to come out of the case is that among the 465 people who had contact with the patient, all of the 134 medical staff who came into contact with her since she was hospitalized on Jan. 30, have tested negative for the virus, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
The latest case marks a first for Taiwan in that it is unknown how the woman was infected with the disease; she had no history of overseas travel in the past two years.
"This case is a tough one," Chen said, adding that the CECC will do everything to find the source of infection.
Due to the scope and nature of the case, it will take some time before the source of infection can be tracked down, the health minister said.
According to Chen, failure to find the source would not have any effect on the current epidemic prevention efforts, and even if there is one, the person would have recovered by now and would not be able to infect others.
Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said at the Taipei briefing that no other family member besides the patient's daughter and granddaughter have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
With these two new infections, the total number of confirmed cases in Taiwan reached 26.
Also Saturday, the CECC announced a closure to the cluster of infection linked to the 19th case in the country, after all of the 256 people who came in contact with the private driver for hire tested negative for the disease, except for four members of his family.
He died from the virus Feb. 15. It is Taiwan's only death from the coronavirus outbreak so far.