CORONAVIRUS/Domestic COVID-19 cases linked to airport climb to 24: CECC

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Sunday reported 10 new domestic COVID-19 cases linked to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which brought the total number of infections connected to the airport to 24.

The 10 new airport-related cases reported Sunday include airport staffers handling luggage carts, people sharing the same vehicle with previous cases, and relatives of people who have contracted the disease, CECC data showed.

"We saw more domestic cases today, which suggested tougher conditions for local disease control," said CECC head Chen Shih-chung (???).

One other case was reported Sunday that was not immediately linked to the airport. It involved a Taipei taxi driver designated to transport COVID-19 patients or those in quarantine.

The 11 domestically transmitted cases were the most reported in a single day since Aug. 29, 2021, when 13 domestic cases were reported.

Given the rising number of cases originating at the airport, which is Taiwan's main international gateway, around 8,000 airport workers are also being tested to identify potential cases that have spread to communities, the CECC said.

The 11 new domestic cases reported Sunday are all Taiwanese nationals -- five males and six females -- and include one male and one female under the age of 5, according to the CECC.

The nine others are aged between their 30s and 60s, with eight of them listed as breakthrough infections and one woman who had received one dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The CECC also reported 49 cases contracted abroad, involving 42 Taiwanese nationals and seven foreign nationals who entered Taiwan or began their journey between Dec. 25 and Jan. 8.

Out of those cases, 30 came from the United States, followed by five from Vietnam, four from Canada, two each from India and the Philippines, and one each from Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Austria, and France. One case remains under investigation, the CECC said.

Chen also announced during the daily press briefing that the current COVID-19 Level 2 alert, which was due to expire on Monday, will be extended for another week to Jan. 24.

However, the face mask mandate -- which was tightened in Taoyuan on Jan. 4 due to locally transmitted infections identified at the airport -- will now apply nationwide, Chen said.

It means that people must wear masks when they exercise, sing, take photos and give speeches, for instance, according to Chen.

People can still take off their masks, however, outside their homes when eating or drinking, partaking in water activities, doing farm work alone, and when visiting hot springs, cold springs, saunas, and spas.

With no new deaths reported on Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remains at 850. The most recent fatality linked to the disease was recorded on Dec. 9.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed 17,362 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, of which 14,629 are domestic infections.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel