Taipei, March 26 (CNA) Seventeen new cases of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 were confirmed in Taiwan on Thursday, bringing the total to 252 since the pandemic began, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.
All of the new patients -- nine males and eight females -- are Taiwanese nationals, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC.
Of the 17 new cases, 15 were imported, while the other two were infected by family members who had recently returned from overseas and had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, Chen said.
In one of the local infections, the man in his 60s contracted the virus from a family member who had visited the United States in early January and was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days after returning to Taiwan on March 19.
The new patient was tested because of his proximity to that family member but had not been showing any symptoms of COVID-19, the CECC said.
The other case of local transmission, a woman in her 40s, was infected by a Taiwanese student based in the Netherlands, who returned home on March 17 and was diagnosed Wednesday with COVID-19.
The woman, a relative of the student, developed COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever, cough and fatigue, on March 23 and was confirmed Thursday to have the disease, according to the CECC.
Meanwhile, the 15 patients deemed to have contracted COVID-19 overseas all returned to Taiwan in the period March 16-23, and reported that their symptoms started between March 11 and March 23, the CECC said.
The countries they had visited were the U.S., the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, Malaysia, Monaco and Mexico, according to the CECC.
One of those cases is the latest in a cluster infection among a tour group that had traveled to Spain recently, the CECC said.
Although the latest case was asymptomatic, he was tested because two other people in the same group were confirmed this week to have contracted the disease, the CECC said.
The other 14 new patients confirmed Thursday were all individual cases, including six who had traveled to the U.K., the CECC said.
As of Thursday, 212 of Taiwan's 252 cases had been classified as imported, while the other 40 are believed to be local infections, the CECC said.
Twenty-nine of Taiwan's COVID-19 patients have been released from quarantine, while two have died. The others are still in negative pressure quarantine rooms in hospital but are all in relatively stable condition, the CECC said.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected 455,753 patients in 176 countries and regions, including 81,285 in China, 74,386 in Italy and 65,174 in the U.S, with 20,740 fatalities to date, according to the CECC.