CORONAVIRUS/Hundreds more hospital workers to be tested after 2 COVID cases found

01/14/2021 06:03 PM
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CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at a press conference Thursday. Photo courtesy of the CECC, Jan. 14, 2021
CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at a press conference Thursday. Photo courtesy of the CECC, Jan. 14, 2021

Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday that another 300-400 employees at a hospital in northern Taiwan will be tested for COVID-19, after a doctor and a nurse there recently contracted the virus.

Since the two healthcare workers were diagnosed with COVID-19 Tuesday, 468 people at the hospital have been tested -- 41 doctors, 185 nurses, 40 administrative personnel, and 202 patients and their carers -- and they were all negative, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

At a press conference, Chen said 77 of those people, who had COVID-like symptoms or had been in close contact with the infected doctor and nurse, had been tested twice, and their results were negative both times.

Some experts on the CECC advisory panel, however, think that more testing should be done, and the public is worried about the situation, according to CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳).

Based on that advice, another 300-400 hospital workers, who may have had brief contact with the infected doctor and nurse, will also be tested over the next two days, Chang said at the CECC press conference.

The negative results among all 468 people who have already been tested -- the ones who had the closest contact with the infected staff members -- were an indication that the virus had not spread in the hospital, he said.

Meanwhile, in response to reporters' questions, Chen said the advisory panel did not think it was necessary to test all 2,200 employees at the hospital or the 300 workers who provide subcontracted services there.

He said 54 people outside the hospital workplace have also been tested, and all of those results were negative. They include teachers, students and drivers who had either been in class with the nurse or on the same bus with her, he said.

Chen also addressed rumors that the infected doctor had not been wearing a mask consistently on the job, saying that a review of the surveillance camera footage in the hospital showed otherwise.

The doctor, who works at a hospital in northern Taiwan and helps treat COVID-19 patients, developed symptoms of the disease on Jan. 8 and tested positive on Tuesday, becoming the first doctor in Taiwan to be confirmed with the disease, according to the CECC.

CECC officials said the doctor probably contracted the disease while treating a severe case of COVID-19 and later infected the nurse, who is his live-in partner and also tested positive on Tuesday.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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