Taiwan reports 6 new imported COVID-19 cases; total rises to 59

03/15/2020 05:34 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)

Taipei, March 15 (CNA) Six new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease have been confirmed in Taiwan, all of which are believed to have been imported, bringing the total number in the country to 59, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday.

Case 54 is a man in his 30s who visited Thailand Feb. 28 to March 1 then took a trip to Hokkaido in northern Japan with a friend March 5-8, said Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).

The man was admitted to hospital March 12 with symptoms that included a runny nose, fatigue and headache, and he tested positive for the coronavirus, Chen said.

In Case 55, the man in his 50s was admitted to hospital with symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain on March 12, the same day he returned to Taiwan from a visit to Egypt with a tour group, Chen said.

The CECC has identified 33 people who had close contact with that patient, and it is closely monitoring their health, Chen said.

Cases 56 and 57 are two people who had visited Turkey via Dubai with a tour group March 4-13 and both developed symptoms such as fever and were admitted to hospitals in Taiwan on the last day of the trip, Chen said.

A total of 19 people have been determined to have had contact with those two patients, who are a man in his 40s and a woman in her 70s, according to Chen.

In the 58th case, the woman in her 20s went to Spain in January for short-term study, and she was put into hospital quarantine shortly after she arrived back in Taiwan on March 13 with a fever, Chen said.

He said case 59 is a high school student who had been touring Greece with his family since January and returned to Taiwan on March 5. A week later, the student developed a sore throat, cough, runny nose and headache and was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, Chen said.

At the patient's school in northern Taiwan, the other students in his class have been asked to remain in home quarantine for 14 days, the CECC said.

That particular case presents a challenge for Taiwan's COVID-19 response teams because the student had been back in Taiwan for an entire week before he was diagnosed and may have had contact with a large number of people, Chen said.

He said health authorities will disinfect the high school and closely monitor the health of the students and teachers.

The Ministry of Education, meanwhile, said it will provide more face masks and other supplies to the school in an effort to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus there.

In the light of the increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases in Taiwan over the past week, the CECC is urging Taiwan residents to avoid overseas travel for the time being.

As of Sunday, over 152,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 5,730 deaths had been reported in 134 countries/territories worldwide, according to the CECC.

Among the 59 cases in Taiwan, 32 have been classified as imported, CECC said.

So far, 20 of the 59 coronavirus patients in Taiwan have been released from quarantine, while one patient has died and the others are still in negative pressure hospital quarantine rooms, according to the CECC.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Chang Hsiung-feng and Joseph Yeh)

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