WUHAN VIRUS/Passengers of quarantined cruise liner visited Taipei 101

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which has at least 64 passengers who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), visited the Taipei 101 skyscraper during a stopover in Taiwan on January 31, but none on the visitors had exhibited symptoms of fever at that time, a press release from Taiwan's tallest building said Saturday.

The Diamond Princess is currently under quarantine for 14 days offshore at Yokohama Harbor in Japan after passengers on board tested positive for the 2019 nCoV.

Of the more than 3,600 passengers and crew members on board, 64 were confirmed infected with the virus as of Saturday morning, including a Taiwanese woman in her 60s.

On January 31, during the cruise liner's 11 hour port call at Taiwan's northern harbor of Keelung, 34 passengers and two tour guides visited the viewing deck of Taipei 101 between 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the building's management said in a press release.

The statement did not specify whether the visitors were among the passengers later confirmed to have 2019 nCoV.

The visiting passengers' body temperature was tested using thermal imaging infrared cameras and infrared forehead thermometers before they entered the viewing deck and none of them had a fever at that time, the statement said.

Aside from that, all staff of Taipei 101 were wearing face masks, hence the possibility of a spread of the virus were minimized if the visitors had already been infected at the time was minimized, the statement further said.

However, in response to the alert issued by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Friday with regards to the risks posed by the cruise ship passengers' visit, the Taipei 101 management has requested all visitors of the viewing deck during that time to conduct self management of their health until Feb. 14 and to avoid going out.

They were further advised to call the epidemic monitoring hotline 1922 to seek assistance should they develop any suspicious symptoms.

Taipei 101's management also assured the public that the whole building maintains good ventilation and disinfection. It pointed out that more than 40 hand sanitizers are placed at the entrance and exit points in the building, as well as near escalators and elevators, for visitors' safety.

Meanwhile, another cruise ship, the SuperStar Aquarius, entered Keelung Harbor before noon Saturday despite Taiwan government's ban on port calls of all international cruise liners to prevent a spread of the coronavirus epidemic on the island.

According to Taiwan's health minister Chen Shih chung (???), the ship was exempted from the ban because more than 90 percent of its passengers are Taiwanese.

Base on the public relations office of the cruise company, the SuperStar Aquarius has 1,738 passengers, 1,709 of whom are Taiwanese nationals. Other passengers of the ship include 18 Filipinos, 3 Malaysians, 3 Vietnamese, 1 Korean, 1 Indonesian, 1 Myanmar, 1 Singaporean and 1 Mainland Chinese spouse married to a Taiwanese person.

Medical and disease prevention personnel will conduct health checks on the passengers before they are allowed to disembark, the port management authorities said.

The passengers are expected to disembark from the ship at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. and complete the customs clearance procedure at 8 p.m., the port management said.

As of press time, Taiwan has recorded a total of 17 confirmed 2019 nCoV cases. The latest patient, who is a man in his 20s, visited Italy from Jan. 22 to 31 with his parents, who were also found infected with the virus two days earlier, the CECC announced Saturday.

The man had been working in his office since his return from Italy, therefore all his 11 officemates were requested to undergo self quarantine at home, the CECC said, adding that further contact tracing is underway.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel