CORONAVIRUS/Contacts of local COVID-19 case test negative so far: CECC

12/23/2020 08:27 PM
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Chen Shih-chung. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Chen Shih-chung. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Dec. 23 (CNA) The contacts of a domestic COVID-19 case reported in Taiwan on Tuesday have all tested negative for the disease so far, including four people who had symptoms, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

The case, a woman in her 30s, was infected by a friend, a New Zealand national who works as an EVA Airways pilot and was confirmed to be infected on Sunday. She was the first domestic case recorded in Taiwan since April 12.

The CECC has identified 173 people so far who had been in contact with the local woman, three of whom are friends and 170 work colleagues, the CECC said.

Of the group, 170 have already tested negative for the disease, including four people who had symptoms and were tested twice, the CECC said.

The tests of the remaining three contacts are still being processed, the CECC said, adding that further contact tracing is ongoing.

Other than the woman, the New Zealand pilot also infected two of his co-workers, a Taiwanese pilot and a Japanese pilot, according to the CECC.

Of the 95 contacts of the three pilots, 93 have been tested so far, with 89 coming back negative, one positive (the local case mentioned previously), and three with results pending .

The other two contacts have yet to be tested, the CECC said.

Also on Wednesday, CECC officials called on the public to not spread unverified information related to COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, in response to a document circulating online that lists places the New Zealand pilot allegedly visited in northern Taiwan.

Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who is the head of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the CECC, said information about where a COVID-19 case has been is only released when it is hard to determine who they were in contact with at those places.

When asked about the authenticity of the list, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) declined to answer, saying that "there is no need to know right now whether it is real or not."

In either case, spreading this information is illegal, Chuang said. The MOHW is investigating if one of its employees is responsible, added Chen.

Chuang also called on the public to not share unverified information, as it can become a form of witch-hunt and does not aid the contact tracing process.

Although the CECC has declined to confirm whether the list is real or not, three establishments included on it commented on the matter on Wednesday.

Brother Hotel said that the pilot parked his car at the hotel on Dec. 9 and ate at a nearby restaurant. He was only in contact with the parking lot attendant who took his temperature, the hotel said.

As the hotel undergoes routine disinfection and none of its employees have shown symptoms, there is no cause for alarm, the hotel said.

The Qingcheng branch of Movenpick Café, which is also included on the list, said in a statement that the pilot ate there for an hour on the afternoon of Dec. 9.

All of the employees at the cafe wear masks throughout the workday and disinfect all utensils and table surfaces used by customers, the cafe said.

The cafe was also thoroughly disinfected after the CECC informed them about the pilot's visit, and no employees have had symptoms so far, the cafe said.

The Taipei Office of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association said the pilot might have visited the building, and it has disinfected all public areas.

The only places the CECC has confirmed the pilot visited are Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store's Tianmu branch, SOGO Department Store's Tianmu branch, and Costco's Nankan outlet.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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