The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday said that 96 suspected cases of severe pneumonia with novel pathogens were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of reports to 621, including eight people who are confirmed to have novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that as of yesterday afternoon no new confirmed cases had been reported, but responding to rapidly increasing cases in China, the command center has set disease prevention guidelines for public transportation, public assemblies and education institutions.
Of the 621 reports, 386 have been ruled out, and 227 people remain in quarantine for examination, including 92 people who had tested negative for 2019-nCov in their first screening.
Among the 460 people who have had direct contact with the eight confirmed cases, 27 people showed symptoms and have been reported as suspected cases, Chuang said, adding that 12 of them have tested negative for the virus twice, while five came up negative in the first test and 10 people have yet to be tested.
The command center on Tuesday announced that it would provide electronic monitoring devices for people who are under home quarantine, including those who have had direct contact with confirmed cases and people who have come from China’s Hubei Province.
Chuang yesterday said that a smartphone would be provided to the 460 people who have had direct contact with confirmed cases.
Local health department or civil affairs department officials would be able to monitor them by video chat each day, and would receive a message if they travel too far from their homes, Chuang said, adding that police officers would visit them if they do not answer their phones.
He said that if any of the 460 people under home quarantine refuse to accept the device, but still arbitrarily leave their home, they could face a fine of up to NT$300,000.
According to the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), people who have returned from Hubei and are under home quarantine could face a fine up to NT$150,000 for refusing to cooperate with the policy, he said.
As for serious breaches of the policy, the command center could order a person to be put under compulsory quarantine at a designated facility, he said.
National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) deputy superintendent Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), a command center specialist, said that the first indigenous 2019-nCoV case, which was confirmed on Tuesday, shows that close and frequent contact can cause virus transmission.
However, the case has not yet resulted in an outbreak in the community, so organizers of large events do not have to halt their plans at this point, but people who are under home quarantine and people who have a fever or respiratory symptoms should not to attend large events, he said.
People who are under quarantine at home should reduce contact with family members, Chang added.
NTUH pediatrician Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), another command center specialist, said that so far all confirmed cases involve people who have traveled to Wuhan or have had close contact with people who visited Wuhan.
However, a big concern is that Taiwan cannot receive direct information about the epidemic outbreak in China from the WHO, so specialists can only gather information from other countries to understand the global situation, he said.
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