CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan reports 17 local COVID-19 cases, with source of five unknown
Taipei, Jan. 18 (CNA) Taiwan reported 17 new domestic cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, of which 12 have been linked to an outbreak in Taoyuan while the source of infection for the other five are currently unknown, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
The 12 new cases linked to an ongoing outbreak that started in Taoyuan can be traced back to a social club, a bank, or a steakhouse, the CECC said, while the five with unknown infection sources include a family of four who live in Hsinchu City and a taxi driver who drove people to and from quarantine facilities.
Domestic cases with unknown sources
The first to test positive in the Hsinchu family was the father, who decided to get tested for COVID-19 after developing symptoms of the disease and learning that a part-time employee at the company he works at is a student at the same school as two COVID-19 cases linked to the Taoyuan outbreak.
The part-timer, a student at the Minghsin University of Science and Technology, has tested negative for COVID-19, however, so the CECC is unsure how the family of four contracted the disease, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.
The CECC will continue to look into the case, Chen added.
The taxi driver, meanwhile, tested negative for COVID-19 four times between Jan. 4 and Jan. 13, but he tested positive during a routine test on Jan. 16 for drivers who transport quarantine-bound travelers, the CECC said.
The CECC suspects that the driver could have been infected by a traveler he drove on Jan. 14, but genome sequencing results are needed to confirm this theory, CECC official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said.
According to Lo, the traveler in question was tested for COVID-19 at the airport upon entry to Taiwan, but as the traveler had not arrived on a long-haul flight, the traveler left for the quarantine location before the test result, which turned out positive, came out.
New airport testing rule
The CECC is therefore expanding its new COVID-19 testing rule for travelers -- which took effect on Jan. 11 and requires passengers on long-haul flights to Taiwan to wait at the airport for the results of their COVID-19 tests which they are required to take upon arrival -- to apply to those coming in from other regions, Chen said.
The first case in the ongoing outbreak that originated in Taoyuan, a janitor at Taoyuan International Airport, was reported on Jan. 3. Since then, other airport personnel and their contacts have also tested positive, and the disease has spread into the wider community.
Related clusters have emerged in the Golden Voice (金嗓歌友會) social club, factories, a bank, and most recently, a steakhouse, and over 100 cases have been recorded so far, with around one-third of those cases confirmed to be the Omicron variant.
Tests for variants on the other cases have either not been completed or the viral load was too low to get a result.
In addition to the domestic cases, Taiwan also reported 49 imported cases on Tuesday. Of these cases, 17 tested positive upon arrival in Taiwan on Monday, and the other 32 were travelers who tested positive during their quarantine, according to the CECC.
The CECC did not release any information regarding the vaccination status of the imported cases.
To date, Taiwan has confirmed 17,951 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, of which 14,726 were domestically transmitted infections.
With no deaths reported Tuesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remained at 851.
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