CORONAVIRUS/New COVID-19 case may be link between Taoyuan outbreak and Hsinchu cluster

01/19/2022 06:40 PM
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) and Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-Generals Chuang Jen-hsiang (right) and Lo Yi-chun. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center) and Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-Generals Chuang Jen-hsiang (right) and Lo Yi-chun. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) One of the 10 new domestic COVID-19 cases confirmed Wednesday could be the missing link between a family cluster in Hsinchu City and an ongoing outbreak in Taoyuan, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The source of the cluster in Hsinchu City, which involves a family of four who tested positive on Tuesday, is still unclear, but the CECC is looking into the possibility that they were infected by a woman who tested positive on Wednesday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press briefing.

Two members of the family dined with the woman on Jan. 11, and health authorities have found that the woman visited the same place as a previously confirmed case in the Taoyuan outbreak on Jan. 9, which may be how the woman contracted the disease and then passed it on to the family in Hsinchu City, Chen said.

More information is needed to confirm this possibility, he added.

Other domestic cases

Of the other nine domestic cases reported Wednesday, seven are linked to the outbreak in Taoyuan, one is the son of a nurse who tested positive on Monday, and one is a vendor at Danan Market in Taoyuan's Bade District, Chen said.

The vendor received a COVID-19 test because she wanted to accompany someone to the hospital, and the results came back positive on Wednesday, Chen said.

Health authorities are still looking into how she contracted the disease, and whether her infection is related to the outbreak in Taoyuan, Chen said.

Danan Market will be closed until Friday for disinfection purposes, and a testing station has been set up at No. 220, Fuguo North Street, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said at a separate press briefing, calling on people who live in the area and other vendors at the market to get tested.

Update: the case involving the market vendor has been retroactively removed after testing negative. (Jan. 20)

The first case in the ongoing outbreak 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 110 cases have been recorded so far, with around half of those cases confirmed to be the same 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.

Three of the 10 domestic cases reported Wednesday have been classified as breakthrough infections, while the vaccination status of one patient was still being investigated. The six other cases had not received any COVID-19 vaccine jabs, according to the CECC.

Imported cases

In addition to the domestic cases, 44 imported cases were also recorded in Taiwan on Wednesday. Of these, 18 tested positive upon arrival in Taiwan on Tuesday, and the other 26 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.

Jan. 19: Taiwan expands on-arrival COVID testing rules to short-haul flights

To date, Taiwan has confirmed 18,005 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, of which 14,737 were domestically transmitted infections.

With no deaths reported Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remained at 851.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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