CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan confirms two new domestic, six imported COVID-19 cases

05/03/2021 05:23 PM
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Officials at the CECC press briefing on Monday. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Officials at the CECC press briefing on Monday. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Taiwan on Monday confirmed two new domestic cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases linked to Taiwan's China Airlines (CAL) and an airport hotel in Taoyuan to 26, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

One of the two cases was a Taiwanese man in his 40s who was working on a renovation project as a subcontractor at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, which has emerged as the source of a COVID-19 cluster over the past week.

The man developed a cough on April 28 and visited a medical clinic on April 30. He was arranged to be tested for COVID-19 the next day, according to Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

When asked why the man was not immediately quarantined when the first case in the hotel cluster was confirmed on April 29, Chen said it was because the man did not have much contact with other hotel employees, and no guests were staying on the floors he was working on.

Some subcontractors were asked to quarantine while others were only asked to monitor any symptoms they might develop, Chen said, but that approach has now changed, with all of the subcontractors asked to isolate themselves.

The CECC is still looking into where the man went prior to testing positive and does not know how he became infected.

Chen said the CECC has some ideas, but will not offer an explanation until it gets more clarity on the situation.

The second domestic COVID-19 case confirmed Monday, an Indonesian national in her teens, is a family member of a CAL cargo pilot who tested positive for the disease in Australia on April 20.

Two other family members of his have also tested positive since.

As of Monday, 10 CAL cargo pilots, eight relatives of CAL cargo pilots, five people who worked at Novotel and three of their family members have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past two weeks, according to the CECC.

The cases of the Novotel employees, their family members, and the pilots' relatives have been classified as domestic cases, but the CECC has not yet classified the pilots' infections.

Because some of the CAL pilots stayed at the Novotel before testing positive, and the genome sequencing of the virus in the pilots and a hotel employee matched, there is a possibility that the cases are connected, though the chain of infection is unclear, the CECC said.

The Novotel airport hotel is part of CAL's complex in Taoyuan, which comprises the Taiwanese carrier's headquarters and training facilities.

The hotel is also used to quarantine flight crews of CAL and other airlines, and as a venue for accommodation, conferences and dining by the general public.

The six imported cases reported Monday, meanwhile, came from the Netherlands, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Five involve foreign nationals who came to work as crew members on ships or fishermen, and one a Taiwanese national who returned from a business trip.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 1,145 cases of COVID-19, 1,003 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 1,058 have recovered, 12 have died, and 75 are in the hospital, according to CECC statistics as of Monday.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 152.3 million people in 193 countries and regions, with more than 3.2 million fatalities, CECC figures show.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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