CORONAVIRUS/Four more COVID-19 cases linked to China Airlines, Novotel reported

05/10/2021 04:52 PM
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Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih- chung. CNA file photo
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih- chung. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) Taiwan on Monday reported four more COVID-19 cases linked to China Airlines (CAL) and the Novotel airport hotel in Taoyuan, bringing the number of cases linked to the two entities to 35, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

One of the four cases is a Taiwanese man in his 40s who works as a driver at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel.

After the first COVID-19 case at the hotel was reported on April 29, he was sent to quarantine at a government-run center. A COVID-19 test he took that day came back negative, the CECC said.

A week later, he began to have symptoms of the disease and a subsequent test came back positive on Monday, the CECC said.

The man had driven two colleagues in the week prior to their testing positive for COVID-19, and may have been infected at that time, according to the CECC.

Two other COVID-19 cases are the wife and daughter of a CAL pilot who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 26, the CECC said.

The last of the four cases is a Taiwanese man in his 40s who works as a pilot at CAL. He flew to the United States on April 20, returned on April 22, and received a COVID-19 test on April 25, which came back negative.

On May 8, he was tested again for COVID-19 because he had been listed as a contact of another CAL pilot who was confirmed with the disease that day. The two pilots were driven to work in the same car a few days earlier.

His test result came back positive on Monday. After his diagnosis, he told health authorities he had a fever on May 6 but did not see a doctor. (Update: COVID-19 patient went to hotel bar, restaurant in Taipei)

Over the past three weeks, 13 CAL pilots, 11 relatives of CAL pilots, a CAL flight attendant, six people who worked at Novotel and three of their family members have tested positive for COVID-19, 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 infections of flight crew members as domestic or imported.

Because half of the infected CAL crew members had stayed at Novotel prior to testing positive, and the genome sequencing of the virus in some flight crew and Novotel employees match, it is likely the cases are connected, though the chain of infection is unclear, the CECC has 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 from CAL and other airlines, as well as providing accommodation, conference hosting and dining services to the general public.

In addition to the cases linked to CAL and the airport hotel, Taiwan also reported 11 imported COVID-19 cases on Monday from the Philippines, Syria, India and Indonesia.

Six of the the patients are foreign nationals who came to work in Taiwan. The other five are Taiwanese nationals returning from working overseas, including two employees at Taiwan's representative office in India who flew back to Taiwan on a special medical flight Saturday to receive treatment for COVID-19.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 1,199 cases of COVID-19, 1,048 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 1,089 have recovered, 12 have died, and 98 are in the hospital, according to CECC statistics as of Monday.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 157.8 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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