Taipei, Taiwan health officials said Monday that they have not yet identified how the two latest domestic COVID-19 cases became infected, though they will conduct more tests to try to determine the infection source.
The two cases, which were announced by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Sunday, are a husband and wife in their 60s. They are the latest cases linked to a cluster infection at the Taoyuan General Hospital, where 15 domestic COVID-19 cases have been reported to date.
According to the CECC, the husband was an inpatient at the hospital from Jan. 8-11 due to health problems unrelated to COVID-19, during which time his wife looked after him.
After being discharged, the man developed a rash, which improved after he saw a doctor, and then experienced chills and fatigue. He was only diagnosed with COVID-19 after visiting a doctor on Jan. 23 and was found to have a fever.
His wife, who had a sore throat and a fever last week, tested positive on Sunday.
So far, the CECC has not found any contacts between the couple and the 13 others linked to the hospital previously confirmed with COVID-19.
A total of 195 medical workers the couple may have had contact with at the hospital, most of whom are part of the surgery department, have tested negative for COVID-19, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said at a press conference Monday.
These medical workers will now be tested for COVID-19 antibodies to see if they previously contracted the disease, Chen said.
Chen also announced on Monday a list of places in Taoyuan the husband and wife visited prior to testing positive.
These include Danan Market in the city’s Bade District, the Start on Start Dim Sum Restaurant on Jingguo road, the PX Mart on Dongyong North Road and Moominlu Bakery.
Chen called for people who have been to these locations to follow self-health management protocols and call the 1922 hotline if they develop any symptoms.
The couple also visited medical facilities outside the hospital and played ping pong with friends before testing positive, but as the CECC has quarantined everyone they came into contact with at these places, they will not be made public, Chen said.
Currently, 2,991 people linked to the hospital cluster are in quarantine, and the number is expected to grow in the next few days as health authorities continue to call individuals identified as part of the CECC’s expanded quarantine plan, Chen said.
The plan, announced Sunday, requires all patients who were discharged from Taoyuan General Hospital from Jan. 11-19 to undergo quarantine for 14 full days after they were discharged.
People who looked after these inpatients at the hospital, such as caregivers or relatives, as well as those who live with either the inpatients or their carers also have to quarantine.
Meanwhile, inpatients discharged from the hospital between Jan. 6-10 only have to follow self-health management protocols and get tested for COVID-19.
Their carers, and people who live with either the inpatients or carers, will have to do the same.
So far, health authorities have only been able to contact the 578 patients discharged between Jan. 6-19, and not their carers or people they live with, according to Chen.
Individuals who have to quarantine but have not yet been contacted should stay at home and wait for health authorities to notify them, or call the 1922 hotline directly, Chen said.
Prior to the CECC’s expanded quarantine plan, only confirmed contacts of COVID-19 cases at the hospital were required to quarantine.
As Taiwan recorded no new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the total number of cases in the country still stands at 889, of which 779 have been classified as imported.
Of the cases, 787 patients have recovered, seven have died, and 95 remain in hospital, according to CECC data.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 99.1 million people in 193 countries and regions, with more than 2.1 million fatalities, according to CECC statistics as of Monday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel