CORONAVIRUS/Taoyuan factory closed, semester cut short due to COVID-19 cases

The 12 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases reported in Taiwan on Tuesday have led to the closure of a factory in Taoyuan and the city ending the current school semester early, as the impact of the latest surge in cases spreads.

Taoyuan

Nine of the 12 new domestic cases were linked to Taoyuan International Airport, bringing the total number of domestic COVID-19 infections connected to the airport reported since Jan. 3 to 39.

These nine cases involved colleagues and family members of airport workers or their relatives or friends who previously tested positive, according to the CECC.

Four of them, as well as another person who was confirmed as having COVID-19 on Monday, all work at a factory in Taoyuan run by electrical connector manufacturer Aces Electronics.

The factory has been closed temporarily, and the 280 other employees who work there have been sent to government quarantine facilities to be quarantined for 14 days, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (???) said at a press briefing.

As the factory has already reported five confirmed cases, Chen said he was worried that a chain of infection had already begun there.

Aces Electronics said in a statement on Tuesday that the five employees work in the company's plant on Dongyuan Road in Taoyuan's Zhongli District.

Because the factory is not one of the company's major production bases, its closure should have less than a 2 percent impact on output value, Aces Electronics said.

Early winter break

The rise in domestic cases in Taoyuan - which had already led to three elementary schools in the city suspending in-person classes for two weeks - has led the city government to end the fall semester one week early, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (???) said at a separate press briefing Monday.

The semester was originally scheduled to end Jan. 21, but will now end this Friday, Cheng said, adding that the decision applies to both public and private elementary schools in the city.

The decision was made due to the jump in COVID-19 cases and expectations that case numbers will continue to climb as people return to Taiwan for the Lunar New Year holidays, Cheng said.

He also cited the fact that most elementary school-aged children cannot get vaccinated against the disease.

Of the 39 domestic COVID-19 infections linked to the airport, 14 have been confirmed as Omicron variant infections.

Based on preliminary genome sequencing results, 13 have been confirmed as part of one cluster. The remaining case involved a taxi driver tasked with taking passengers to and from quarantine facilities who was found to have been infected by a passenger in late December, the CECC said.

Jan. 11: No plan for schools nationwide to start winter break earlier: MOE

Greater Taipei

The other three domestic COVID-19 cases confirmed Tuesday involved two nurses at Taipei City Hospital's Zhongxing Branch and the boyfriend of one of the nurses, who works as a chef at a restaurant in Xinyi District, according to the CECC and Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan (???).

The two nurses work in the same ward, and one of them recently took care of five COVID-19 patients, of which three had the Omicron variant of the virus.

During routine testing on Jan. 7, the nurses tested negative, but tests taken on Monday came back with positive results, the CECC said.

One of the nurses is married with two children, though all three of her family members have tested negative so far. The classes of the two children will be suspended for two days as a precaution, Huang said.

The restaurant where the chef works will be closed for two weeks and his colleagues are now in quarantine, according to Taipei's Department of Health.

The department has also contacted 14 customers who dined at the restaurant in the three days before the chef began showing symptoms, and the results are still being processed, it said.

In terms of vaccination status, nine of the 12 domestic cases reported Tuesday have been classified as breakthrough infections, while one of those infected received one Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine jab, and a man in his 60s and a girl under five years old were not vaccinated.

In addition to the domestic cases, Taiwan also reported 58 imported cases on Tuesday. The CECC did not release any information regarding the vaccination status of those cases.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed 17,463 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, of which 14,647 are domestic infections. Taiwan has recorded 43 domestic cases in January so far, all but four linked to Taoyuan International Airport.

With no deaths reported Tuesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remains at 850. Taiwan last reported a death related to COVID-19 on Dec. 19.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel