Taiwan further expands screening to curb COVID-19 pandemic

03/31/2020 07:25 PM
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Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday announced that it will expand the scope of COVID-19 coronavirus screening tests to all patients with pneumonia and those who have lost their sense of smell or taste, effective immediately.

Henceforth, patients with such symptoms will be required to undergo coronavirus screening tests, said CECC expert Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) during a news briefing.

Chang said the CECC decided to expand screening to patients with pneumonia in the hope that doing so will make it easier to detect those infected with COVID-19 more quickly and before they infect others.

The decision came after two of the most recent cases were individuals with no recent overseas travel history, who tested positive for coronavirus only after doctors sent their samples for screening following a pneumonia diagnosis, according to the CECC.

As of Monday, 24 of the more than 300 confirmed cases in Taiwan were found to have lost their sense of smell or taste, prompting the CECC to subject those with such symptoms to screening, he added.

Previously, Taiwan only conducted COVID-19 tests on those with respiratory symptoms and fever who had recently traveled to countries with coronavirus outbreaks, or who had contact with coronavirus patients.

The CECC last week further expanded the scope of screening to medical and healthcare workers with suspected infection symptoms in order to prevent possible cluster infections in the nation's healthcare system.

Taiwan recorded 16 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 322 with five deaths since the coronavirus emerged in China at the end of last year, according to CECC statistics.

As of Tuesday, the CEEC had conducted 31,800 tests since the epidemic started in late December.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Yu Hsiao-han and Joseph Yeh)

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