CORONAVIRUS/First doctor in Taiwan to get COVID-19 among 4 new cases

01/12/2021 04:58 PM
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CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only
CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Taiwan on Tuesday reported four new cases of COVID-19, including the first case of a local doctor to be infected with the disease, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The doctor, a man in his 30s, cared for COVID-19 patients at the hospital where he works in northern Taiwan, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press briefing in Taipei.

Local media reported that the hospital is in Taoyuan, but the CECC declined to identify the hospital by name or say where it is located.

After exhibiting symptoms, including a cough and fever, on Jan. 8, the man was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday and the results came back positive on Monday, said Chen, who also heads the CECC.

One of the other three cases was also transmitted domestically and involved the doctor's girlfriend, a nurse at the same hospital.

Her work did not bring her into contact with COVID-19 patients, suggesting that she contracted the disease from the doctor, whom she lives with, according to Chen.

The nurse also developed a cough and fever on Jan. 9 and tested positive on Monday after being identified as a contact of the doctor, Chen said.

At present, the CECC has identified 464 contacts of the two local cases at the hospital, all of whom have tested negative, he said.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung publishes locations visited by one of the latest domestically transmitted COVID-19 patients. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2021
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung publishes locations visited by one of the latest domestically transmitted COVID-19 patients. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2021

The CECC said it had further identified 56 contacts of the two outside the hospital, of which test results are still pending for 42. Of the 14 whose test results have come back, only the nurse's were positive, it said.

According to Chen, the CECC sent an emergency response team to the hospital after it received notification of the doctor's positive test on Monday afternoon.

The CECC ordered the hospital to stop admitting new patients and placed 39 health workers under home quarantine orders, he said.

Chen said the operations of its ICU and regularly scheduled appointments will not be affected, but hospital visitations will be limited to one visitor per patient.

In addition, patients who came in contact with the doctor or nurse have been moved into isolation rooms for observation, and all staff at the hospital will be tested again for COVID-19 in three days, Chen said.

The Starbucks cafe is closed for disinfection on Tuesday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2021
The Starbucks cafe is closed for disinfection on Tuesday. CNA photo Jan. 12, 2021

The CECC said the doctor visited the Metro Walk Shopping Center in Taoyuan City, Zhenyu Hardware store's Taoyuan International branch, and a Starbucks cafe in the city between Jan. 8 and 9.

All these venues are closed for disinfection Tuesday. (Update: CECC discloses places visited by COVID-infected doctor, nurse)

Aside from restaurant and café visits, he wore a face mask at all times, according to the CECC.

The nurse, meanwhile, accompanied the doctor for much of that time, though her exact whereabouts in the days before her diagnosis are still being confirmed, the center said.

The CECC also reported two imported cases of COVID-19, one each from the United States and the United Kingdom.

The case from the U.S. is a Taiwanese woman, in her 60s, who arrived in the country on Jan. 5, and developed a cough and runny nose on Sunday before testing positive on Tuesday, the CECC said.

The other case is a British man in his 30s, who entered the country on Dec. 29 for business reasons and checked into a government-designated quarantine facility.

In light of the new COVID-19 variant in the U.K., the man was tested for the disease on Dec. 30, and the results came back negative, the CECC said.

He was tested again upon completing his quarantine on Monday, and the results came back positive on Tuesday, though he is currently asymptomatic, the CECC said.

No contacts were identified in either of the imported cases.

To date, Taiwan has reported 838 cases of COVID-19, of which 741 have been classified as imported.

Of the total, 730 have recovered, seven have died and 101 remain in the hospital, according to CECC statistics as of Tuesday.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Joseph Yeh and Matthew Mazzetta)

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