CORONAVIRUS/New COVID cases suggest hidden community infection: Health minister

10/22/2021 05:33 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (second right) hosts Friday
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (second right) hosts Friday's COVID-19 press briefing, along with Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chou Jih-haw (second left) and Chou's two deputies Lo Yi-chun (left) and Chuang Jen-hsiang. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) The two new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases reported on Friday indicate there are likely more unidentified community infections in Taiwan, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

"The situation will continue to take place," Chen said when asked at a press briefing if the spread of COVID-19 remains in the community.

The minister's comment came after he announced the fifth and sixth local cases in October, which involved an Indonesian caregiver in her 30s and a Taiwanese in her 50s, both of whom live in Keelung.

The women took COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, the caregiver for her work and the Taiwan national so she could be allowed to care for an individual at a hospital, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) headed by Chen.

Seven and 10 of their close contacts have been placed in quarantine, respectively, because of the positive tests, the CECC said in a statement.

The two cases do not seem to be connected, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) during the press briefing, adding that it is also likely their infections are not recent.

According to Lo, despite the initial positive tests, both women have since had negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests after being hospitalized.

Further test results showed the caregiver had a cycle threshold (CT) value of 33, while the CT value of the Taiwanese was 33.2, both indicating a low viral load, Lo said.

Moreover, although someone from the family the caregiver works for contracted the disease in May, she was not listed as a close contact at the time and not tested, Lo added.

As to the Taiwanese woman, Lo said there is no record of her having any previous contact with confirmed patients, and the authorities are investigating possible sources of infection in her case.

Because of the low viral load in the two patients, Chen said it is unlikely they have had much impact on the community.

Meanwhile, Taiwan reported six new imported cases on Friday, including five foreign nationals in their teens, and a Taiwanese in his 60s, who returned from South Africa on Oct. 20 and tested positive upon arrival at the airport, according to the CECC.

One of the five foreign nationals is a female from Myanmar, who arrived in Taiwan on Oct. 7 and tested positive during her 14-day quarantine, CECC said.

The four others are one Indonesian, one Thai, and two Malaysians -- all but one female -- who arrived in Taiwan on Oct. 20. The Indonesian national tested positive one day after arriving, while the other three had a positive test upon arrival at the airport, according to the CECC.

With Friday's new cases, Taiwan has recorded six locally acquired infections and 120 imported cases in October, according to the CECC.

Data released by the CECC Friday showed 65.53 percent of Taiwan
Data released by the CECC Friday showed 65.53 percent of Taiwan's 23.43 million population have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 25.23 percent have been fully vaccinated.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 16,357 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020 -- 14,587 are domestic infections, while 1,716 are people who contracted the disease aboard.

Another 36 involved infections among the crew of a military vessel in 2020, and three individuals who caught the disease while flying with their colleagues, while the source of one case is unknown and the source of 14 other cases is still under investigation, the CECC said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 fatalities in the country remains at 846, with the most recent death being reported on Oct. 9, according to the CECC.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chiang Hui-chun and Kay Liu)


Recent cases

Oct. 21: Taiwan reports two imported COVID-19 cases, zero local ones

Oct. 20: 4 new imported COVID cases Wednesday include 3 breakthrough infections

Oct. 19: Taiwan reports 6 six new COVID-19 cases, one locally transmitted

Oct. 18: Taiwan reports no new COVID-19 cases, deaths for first time in 193 days

Oct. 17: Level 2 alert extended to Nov. 1, one new imported COVID-19 case reported

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