Taipei, The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday that two Indonesian migrant workers who stayed in the same dormitory in Taiwan after completing quarantine, and who both have tested positive for COVID-19, are imported cases rather than domestic ones.
The two migrant workers (case No. 688 and No. 695) both tested positive for IgG antibodies, which indicates they have been infected for at least two weeks, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press conference.
In addition, they were also only in contact for one day in the dormitory, which makes it unlikely they infected one another, said Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
The first of the two migrant workers to be confirmed with the disease, case No. 688, is an Indonesian woman in her 30s who arrived in Taiwan on Nov. 13.
She had proof of a negative COVID-19 test issued within three days of her flight and tested negative for the disease in Taiwan while in quarantine at a designated government center, according to the CECC.
After the woman completed quarantine, she was taken to a dormitory on Sanmin Road in Taoyuan on Nov. 29, where she shared a bedroom and bathroom with 47 other migrant workers.
She was tested for COVID-19 again in Taiwan at her employer’s request on Dec. 1, and the results came back positive on Dec. 4. The Ct value of her polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was 32.
In Taiwan, the cutoff value for a positive test is a Ct value under 35.
After her case was confirmed, the CECC arranged for the 47 other migrant workers at the dorm to stay at a designated quarantine center and be retested, including a Vietnamese national who they initially had difficulty contacting but was later located by the authorities.
The only person who tested positive (case No. 695) is an Indonesian woman in her 20s who also had proof of a negative COVID-19 test issued within three days before coming to Taiwan and tested negative while in quarantine.
She moved into the same dorm as case No. 688 on the same day, Nov. 29, but was moved to a different dorm on Taoyuan’s Chunri Road the next day, where she stayed in a room by herself before being taken to a designated center to be tested, Chen said.
The CECC is still tracking down the people she had contact with at the dormitory on Chunri Road, Chen said.
The Ct value of her test was 33, according to Chuang.
When asked why the two women tested positive more than two weeks after entering Taiwan, Chuang said it is likely because they have been infected for a while and are at the stage where the virus cannot be easily detected, which results in fluctuating test results.
At the press conference, CECC officials were also asked why the migrant workers were allowed to stay in rooms with nearly 50 people so soon after they finished quarantine, as people are required to follow self-health management protocols for seven days after completing quarantine.
During that period, people are advised to take their temperature twice daily and avoid going to public places. If they do have to venture outside of their house they have to wear a mask, according to the CECC.
Hsueh Chien-chung (薛鑑忠), a section chief at the MOL’s Workforce Development Agency who was at the press conference on Sunday, said that the migrant workers staying at the dormitory were awaiting health checks as required for all incoming migrant workers to Taiwan.
While in the past, the manpower agencies who assisted in the hiring of migrant workers would take them to have health checks at hospitals, the MOL has noticed that this work has increasingly been outsourced to other companies, Hsueh said.
When migrant workers complete their quarantine at the weekend, when hospitals do not offer health checks, these companies arrange for them to stay in dormitories, Hsueh said.
The MOL will ask local governments to inspect the living conditions at these dormitories to see if they meet the necessary standards, Hsueh said.
The MOL and the CECC will also consider whether to require the companies to report where the migrant workers stay during the self-health management period, and how to address the issue of packed dorms, he said.
Meantime, the CECC will allow migrant workers who cannot immediately get health checks after finishing quarantine to continue staying at the designated quarantine centers before they can do so, Chen said.
According to Hsueh, companies who specialize in taking migrant workers to health checks do not currently fall under the MOL’s jurisdiction, so only labor brokers and employers are fined if there are any violations regarding migrant worker accommodation.
Laws that will allow these companies to be regulated by the MOL are being drafted and will be introduced in the first quarter of next year, Hsueh said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel