CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan records two new domestic BA.5 subvariant cases

07/25/2022 05:22 PM
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Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, July 25 (CNA) Taiwan has recorded two new domestic cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5, involving a man who was infected by a family member returning from overseas, and a shipyard employee whose source of infection is unknown, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.

The former is a man in his 60s, who contracted the disease when he picked up a relative returning from Germany on July 5, said Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC's medical response division.

Twelve of the man's contacts have been tested for COVID-19, and two of them were positive, but they both had previously contracted the disease in May and June, and their viral loads indicated that they did not have new infections, Lo said.

In the case of the shipyard employee, he had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 18 and developed symptoms of the disease again on July 13, Lo said.

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and subsequent genome sequencing confirmed that he had been reinfected, this time with the Omicron BA.5 subvariant of the virus, Lo said.

In expanded testing of his contacts, the CECC found that two of the man's relatives, as well as 10 of the 118 employees at the shipyard where he worked, had also contracted COVID-19, Lo said.

Genome sequencing will be done in those cases to determine whether it is a BA.5 cluster, he said.

Taiwan has now recorded nine domestic cases of the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant and has listed two of them as having an unknown origin, according to CECC data.

In addition to the domestic cases, genome sequencing conducted over the past week showed 46 new imported cases of the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, bringing the total number to 62 and 354, respectively, the CECC said.

The highest number of the two variants has been among arrivals from the United States, followed by those from Germany, France, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, Lo said, adding that imported cases among travelers from neighboring Japan, South Korea, and Thailand have also been on the rise.

The BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants were first detected in South Africa in January and February, respectively. They have since become dominant worldwide, because of their high transmissibility, with the BA.5 now accounting for 54 percent of COVID-19 cases globally and BA.4 accounting for 11 percent, the CECC said, citing data from the World Health Organization.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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