CORONAVIRUS/Preschool cluster grows to 23 cases, 10 confirmed with Delta variant
Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) Seven new COVID-19 cases related to a preschool in New Taipei were reported Wednesday, bringing the number of cases in the cluster to 23, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said, adding that 10 of these cases have been confirmed with the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The 23 cases include a teacher at the preschool and her husband -- the first two cases reported in the cluster -- nine students at the preschool, nine of their family members, and three people who live in the same apartment complex as one of the students.
The preschool and the apartment complex are both located in New Taipei's Banqiao District.
The father of the student who lives in the Banqiao apartment complex is the only case in the cluster that has been classified as imported, though the CECC said that this classification could change as more information comes to light.
The man, an Egyptian national, left Taiwan for Egypt in June and returned on Aug. 4, and two COVID-19 tests he took during quarantine came back with negative results. However, he tested positive for the disease on Wednesday, after his wife and child had also tested positive.
The high CT level (37.9) of his test indicates he was infected a while ago, according to the CECC.
Of the three others who live in the same apartment complex and have also been confirmed with COVID-19, one is a nurse anesthetist at National Taiwan University Hospital.
The anesthetist received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine in July, making her the first breakthrough infection recorded among people who have received two doses of the vaccine brand in Taiwan, according to the CECC.
Nearly 1,200 of her colleagues at the hospital have tested negative for COVID-19, the CECC said.
According to New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), the six cases at the apartment complex -- a preschool student, the student's parents and three of their neighbors -- all live in the same building at the two-building complex.
A total of 400 residents in the same building have been sent to quarantine at designated hotels in the city, while 505 people who live in the other building have been instructed to follow self-health management protocols.
Individuals subject to the protocol are banned from joining large gatherings and should avoid going to crowded areas.
All 905 residents in the complex have been tested for COVID-19, with 343 negative results and the remainder still being processed, Hou said.
Speaking at a separate press briefing, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that so far, genome sequencing results of 10 of the 23 cases in the cluster had come out and showed that all 10 had been infected with the Delta variant of the virus.
The genome sequence is not an exact match with those of the EVA Airways pilot cases reported last week, however, which means that they don't share the same infection source, Chen said.
Health authorities are still looking for the infection source of the cluster, Chen said, but the priority right now is to prevent more people from becoming infected.
In addition to the seven COVID-19 cases linked to the cluster, Taiwan reported two other cases on Wednesday.
One of the patients, a domestic case, tested positive after seeking emergency medical care at a New Taipei hospital. The other is a British national who recently traveled to Taiwan and tested positive during quarantine, according to the CECC.
To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 16,056 COVID-19 cases, of which 14,393 are domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded more than 100 cases in a single day.
With no new deaths reported for six straight days, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remained at 837, with all but 12 recorded since May 15, CECC data showed.
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