CORONAVIRUS/Preschool cluster grows to 27 cases, infection source still unknown

09/09/2021 06:07 PM
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Thursday
Thursday's COVID-19 press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) Four more COVID-19 cases linked to a preschool and an apartment complex in New Taipei were reported Thursday, bringing the number of cases in the cluster to 27, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The first two cases in the cluster -- a preschool teacher and her husband -- were confirmed on Sept. 5. By Wednesday, 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 had also tested positive.

Both the preschool and the apartment complex are located in Banqiao District, New Taipei.

The four new cases linked to the cluster reported Thursday are family members of a student who lives in the Banqiao apartment complex, a construction worker who did renovation work at the complex in August, and the construction worker's wife, according to the health departments of Taipei and New Taipei.

Disinfection work at the apartment complex in Banqiao District, New Taipei. CNA photo Sept. 9, 2021
Disinfection work at the apartment complex in Banqiao District, New Taipei. CNA photo Sept. 9, 2021

The two family members are the student's uncle and the cousin of the student's father. The three men, all Egyptian nationals, arrived in Taiwan from Egypt on Aug. 4 and tested negative twice during quarantine.

The student's father tested positive on Wednesday, however, after his child and wife had been confirmed with COVID-19, and on Thursday, the other two men also tested positive. The three men have been classified as imported cases.

Based on the CT levels of the patients in the cluster, when they began to develop symptoms and antibody test results, the family were likely the first to become infected with the disease, CECC official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said at the CECC press briefing.

It is possible that the father of the student or the preschool teacher are the source of the cluster, but there is still insufficient information for health officials to reach a definitive conclusion at the moment, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung shows a chart displaying patients listed in the cluster. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung shows a chart displaying patients listed in the cluster. Photo courtesy of the CECC

The two other new cases in the cluster, the construction worker and his wife, live in Wenshan District in Taipei, city officials said Thursday.

The construction worker did renovation work at one of the apartments in the Banqiao complex in mid-August, and both he and his wife developed symptoms of COVID-19 last week, Taipei Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) said.

Currently, genome sequencing results in 10 of the 27 cases in the cluster show that all have been infected with the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The patients are either symptomatic or have only mild symptoms, and none have needed to be treated in intensive care units (ICU), according to the CECC.

In addition to the four cases linked to the cluster, Taiwan also reported two other domestic cases on Thursday.

The two patients live together in Sanchong District, New Taipei, and were confirmed with COVID-19 after one of them sought medical attention at a hospital and tested positive, according to the city's Department of Health.

These two individuals are not believed to be related to the preschool cluster, the department said.

The sole death recorded Thursday was a man in his 70s who passed away on Sept. 7.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 16,062 COVID-19 cases, of which 14,397 are domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded more than 100 cases in a single day.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen to 838, with all but 12 recorded since May 15, CECC data showed.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

Enditem/AW

Recent cases

Sept. 8: Preschool cluster grows to 23 cases, 10 confirmed with Delta variant

Sept. 7: Taiwan reports 12 new COVID cases; preschool cluster grows to 15

Sept. 6: Eight children at New Taipei preschool contract COVID-19: CECC

Sept. 5: Taiwan reports six new COVID-19 cases, including kindergarten teacher

Sept. 4: Taiwan reports 1 new imported COVID-19 case, no domestic case

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