CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan adds 16 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 169 (update)

03/22/2020 05:06 PM
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) A total of 16 new coronavirus cases, 13 of which originated overseas, were confirmed in Taiwan on Sunday, bringing the total number to 169 since the outbreak began, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.

Among the new patients, three are believed to have contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) locally, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

One of the three, a woman in her 20s, is a nurse at a nursing home. So far, 81 doctors, nurses and residents at the nursing home have been tested for COVID-19, and all have tested negative, according to Chen.

Health authorities are now moving five of the 53 patients to a nearby hospital while the rest of the 48 will be sent to two quarantine locations to prevent a further spread of the disease, said Deputy Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元).

According to the CECC, the nurse (case 156) has no recent overseas travel history and developed a fever, dizziness and general weakness on March 12.

She visited a nearby clinic on March 16 but the medication she received did not alleviate her symptoms and she sought further care at a hospital on March 20.

Authorities have identified another 14 people who had contact with her before her diagnosis and is closely monitoring their conditions, according to the CECC.

Chen said the CECC has not yet been able to pinpoint the origin of the woman's infection, but he believed the nursing home infection was "manageable" as its doctors, nurses and residents have all tested negative for COVID-19 and the home has been closed and disinfected.

The two other cases in which the disease was contracted locally (cases 168 and 169) are a German in his 30s and an Austrian in her 30s who are believed to have been infected with the coronavirus from a previous confirmed case (case 124).

Both of them were quarantined at home before they tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, of the 13 new imported cases, two of them (cases 161 and 162) were members of a tour group that visited Egypt from March 3 to 12. They two developed symptoms during home quarantines on March 20.

These latest additions mean eight members of the tour group and a family member of one of the eight, have so far tested positive for COVID-19. Health authorities are monitoring the health of people they came in contact with on the airplane and after returning to Taiwan, the CECC said.

The remaining imported cases showed symptoms of infection between March 7 and March 20 during and after traveling to the U.S., Egypt, Germany, France, Italy, the U.K., Denmark, New Zealand and the Philippines.

As of Sunday, 133 of the 169 confirmed cases in Taiwan have been classified as imported, the CECC said.

Globally, over 297,207 COVID-19 cases and at least 12,790 deaths had been reported in 165 countries/territories worldwide, according to the CECC.

Currently, 28 of the 169 coronavirus patients in Taiwan have been released from quarantine, while two patients have died. The others are still in negative pressure rooms in hospitals but are all in a relatively stable condition, according to the CECC.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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