CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan into community transmission stage of COVID-19: Health Minister

05/11/2021 05:37 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) hosts Tuesday
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) hosts Tuesday's COVID-19 press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) Taiwan has entered the community transmission stage of COVID-19 following the emergence of six domestic cases of the disease that have unknown sources of infection, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Tuesday.

Five of the six cases are linked to the Galaxy Baccarat, an arcade in the eastern county of Yilan, and consist of four female employees at the arcade aged from the late teens to their 40s, and a regular customer, a man in his 30s, Chen said.

The cluster was discovered after one of the employees visited a hospital on May 9 because she had chills, fever and a cough. She was tested that day, and her result came back positive a day later, Chen said.

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which Chen leads, announced her case and the other cases in the cluster on Tuesday.

The arcade involved in the cluster of COVID-19 infections in Yilan. Image from Google Maps
The arcade involved in the cluster of COVID-19 infections in Yilan. Image from Google Maps

The arcade, on Zhongzheng North Road in Luodong Township, has been ordered to close temporarily and has been disinfected. All remaining employees are now in quarantine at home and will be tested for COVID-19.

Others who work in the same building have been asked to monitor their health and report to local authorities if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms.

People who visited the arcade between midnight and 8 a.m. from May 7-9 should also do the same, Chen said.

The odds that this cluster is related to a recent cluster involving China Airlines (CAL), a major Taiwanese carrier, and the Novotel airport hotel in Taoyuan is "extremely low," Chen said, though the CECC does not yet know how they became infected.

Aside from the cases at the Yilan arcade, the CECC reported one more domestic COVID-19 case with an unknown source of infection on Tuesday, involving a Taiwanese man in his 60s.

The man, who has no recent travel history, began to have a cough and chills on May 7. He visited the doctor after developing a fever on May 9, and his result came back positive the next day.

Health authorities have identified 115 people the man has been in contact with, and they have all been asked to quarantine, but the contact tracing process remains ongoing, Chen said.

The man told health authorities he ate at the Jing Hua Ting Banquet Hall (晶華亭宴會廳) in New Taipei's Xinzhuang District on May 4.

The "Windmill" banquet hall in Luzhou District, New Taipei. CNA photo May 11, 2021
The "Windmill" banquet hall in Luzhou District, New Taipei. CNA photo May 11, 2021

On May 6, he got a massage at a parlor in New Taipei's Luzhou District, on Chang'an Road, called Lia Lia (來來按摩中心) in the afternoon. Later that day, he went to a banquet hall called the "Windmill" (大風車海鮮婚宴餐廳) in the same district.

The man is retired and participates in a lot of activities, Chen said, and the CECC will release a more detailed list of places he went to after it gathers more information.

The five cases in the arcade cluster and the man in his 60s all have relatively low CT values (20, 11, 20, 25, 12, 18), which indicates that they were infected with COVID-19 recently, said CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳).

In response to these cases, the CECC has announced a ban on large-scale gatherings.

Local governments around Taiwan, including in Taipei and Taoyuan, have said that events such as graduation ceremonies will now be held virtually.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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