CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan cluster infection leads to four new cases, one death (update)

01/30/2021 08:21 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Taiwan reported four more domestic COVID-19 cases linked to a recent cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital on Saturday, including one death, bringing the total number of cases related to the cluster to 19, according to health authorities.

Three of the newly confirmed domestic cases are family members of an infected nurse at the hospital, one of whom -- a woman in her 80s -- died late Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said in a statement.

The woman, who was the nurse's mother-in-law, is the first COVID-19 patient to die in Taiwan since May 11, 2020, according to the CECC.

The elderly woman suffered from chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart failure and other health issues. She started to experience loss of appetite, fatigue and a fever on Thursday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said at a press conference in Taipei.

The woman tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday after developing a cough and shortness of breath, Chen added.

Although she experienced complications related to her chronic health issues, a preliminary investigation indicates she died of COVID-19, the CECC head said.

The two other family members are the nurse's daughter in her 20s and father-in-law in his 80s, Chen said, adding that the three went into home quarantine on Jan. 18 after testing negative for the virus.

The two received COVID-19 test on Friday and the result came back positive the following day, he added.

According to Chen, the infected nurse lives with a total of six family members, and to date, all have contracted the virus except her sister-in-law, who tested negative and has been placed under quarantine.

Data source: the CECC
Data source: the CECC

The fourth case involves a man in his 50s who accompanied his mother to seek medical attention at a different hospital in Taoyuan, Chen said, although he did not identify the hospital.

It is believed that while at the unnamed hospital the man came into contact with an individual previously discharged from Taoyuan General Hospital, who feeling ill had gone to see a doctor at the other hospital. That individual, case No. 889, has since been confirmed as part of the cluster infection at Taoyuan General. The two interacted for about 20 minutes on Jan. 23.

The 50-year-old went into quarantine on Tuesday after being listed as one of case No. 889's contacts by health authorities, the minister said.

He was tested Friday, and the result came back positive the following day, although he has been asymptomatic, Chen said, adding that the man's mother, who was in proximity to the examination room where case No. 889 saw a doctor, tested negative for the virus the same day.

The undisclosed hospital has been thoroughly disinfected and a total of 242 individuals, who were in contact with case No. 889, have been placed under quarantine, according to CECC officials.

As of Saturday, a total of 4,093 people are in quarantine to contain the hospital cluster, Chen said.

The first case of the COVID-19 cluster infection was reported on Jan. 12 at the hospital in northern Taiwan. It marked the first time a doctor has been infected in Taiwan since the pandemic began.

Despite the recent cluster infection, experts have said the situation is under control. Quick isolation and quarantine, as well as efficient contact tracing, the cancellation of large-scale events and heightened public alertness have helped prevent the infections from spreading widely into the community.

A woman walks past a pharmacy counter at Taoyuan General Hospital. CNA file photo
A woman walks past a pharmacy counter at Taoyuan General Hospital. CNA file photo

Other than the doctors, nurses, patients and a migrant caretaker in the cluster, all the others infected are family members.

In addition to the domestic cases, Taiwan on Saturday reported six new imported cases of COVID-19 arriving from Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Brazil, the CECC said.

To date, Taiwan has reported 909 cases of COVID-19, of which 795 have been classified as imported. Of the total, eight patients have died, 823 have recovered and 78 remain in hospital receiving treatment, according to the center.

Since the onset of the pandemic, COVID-19 has infected about 101.96 million people in 193 countries and regions worldwide, with more than 2.17 million fatalities, according to CECC statistics as of Saturday.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Chih-chung and Chung Yu-chen)

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