CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan reports first domestic COVID-19 case in 2.5 months

04/23/2021 07:42 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) CNA photo April 23, 2021
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) CNA photo April 23, 2021

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) Taiwan on Friday confirmed one domestic COVID-19 case, two and a half months after it recorded its last locally-transmitted infection of the new coronavirus, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The case is a family member of an Indonesian pilot serving at Taiwanese carrier China Airlines (CAL), who flew a cargo flight to Australia on April 20 and upon his arrival, felt itchy in his throat.

The pilot in his 40s was tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said at a press briefing. Upon learning of the result, the CECC launched an investigation into his activities in Taiwan, identified 58 contacts and tested them.

On Friday, two of the contacts were confirmed positive for COVID-19, including the pilot's teenage son, Chen said, and his colleague in his 50s, also an Indonesian national and a CAL pilot.

The colleague was on duty in the United States between April 4-10, during which he showed no symptoms of illness. He was tested upon his return from the U.S. on April 15 and the results came back negative.

On April 16, the man visited Taipei Grand Mosque along with the other pilot and the pilot's son, even though he felt fatigued and slightly hot. Two days later, he began developing a moderate cough and got better after taking medicine, according to the CECC.

Then on April 21, the man got a self-paid test because he planned to fly home for a family reunion. The results came back positive on Friday.

Chen said although the three had gone to the Taipei mosque together, authorities are still investigating whether or not they are a cluster infection.

While the boy was identified as a domestic case, the source of infection in the case involving the second CAL pilot is still unknown, Chen said.

According to Chen, there were around 400 people attending activities at Taipei Grand Mosque on the day the trio were there, 200 of whom were indoors while the others were outdoors.

Efforts are being made to identify possible contacts, he said, adding that all of the participants wore face masks.

The CECC commander also said that there is no link between the pilot case on Friday and two cases also involving CAL pilots on April 20. The source of their infection is still unknown.

The previous domestic case was recorded on Feb. 9, when one family member of a nurse at Taoyuan Hospital tested positive. The nurse was confirmed on Jan. 18 to have been infected with COVID-19 at the hospital. Since then, a total of six of her family members have contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, the CECC also confirmed two imported cases on Friday, from India and Belgium.

The first case involved an Indian man in his 30s who flew to Taiwan for work on April 6 with proof of negative test results within three days of his flight.

He received a self-paid test on April 21 at the end of mandatory quarantine at a hotel, and the results came back positive. Five of his contacts have been identified, the CECC said.

The second case is a Belgium national in his 40s who also arrived in Taiwan for work on April 6.

During his quarantine at a hotel, he began to suffer from a headache, pain in the throat, a runny nose and abnormality in his sense of smell on April 20. He was then tested at a hospital.

The test results came back positive on Friday, and because the man had made no contact with others during quarantine, there were no contacts listed for the case, the CECC said in its press release.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 1,090 cases of COVID-19, 970 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 1,044 have recovered, 11 have died and 35 are in hospital, according to the latest CECC statistics.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 144 million people in 193 countries and regions, with more than 3 million fatalities, CECC data shows.

(By Chen Chieh-ling, Chen Chih-chung and Elizabeth Hsu)

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