Taiwan yesterday confirmed two more COVID-19 cases as part of a family cluster infection, bringing the nation’s total to 26.
A woman in her 20s and her aunt, in her 40s, have been confirmed as the nation’s 25th and 26th COVID-19 patients respectively, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told a news conference at the Central Epidemic Command Center.
The 25th patient started coughing on Jan. 28 and developed a fever on Jan. 31 before seeking medical treatment on Feb. 4 and Tuesday last week, while her aunt, who showed no signs of respiratory trouble or a fever, visited a doctor on Feb. 3 and Feb. 6 for gastroesophageal reflux, said Chen, who heads the center.
An initial investigation found that the two women were likely infected by a woman in her 60s — the 24th patient, confirmed on Wednesday, as they are related.
The woman in her 60s lives in northern Taiwan and is the grandmother and mother of the other two women, the center said.
The oldest woman lives with her daughter, while her granddaughter visited her on Tuesday last week after she was hospitalized.
The grandmother developed a cough and fever on Jan. 22, and visited a clinic four times over the following week, the center said, adding that she was hospitalized on Jan. 29 for pneumonia and transferred to an intensive care ward on Monday last week.
As none of the three women have traveled abroad in the past two years, the origin of their infection remains unknown, the center said.
In response to comments yesterday by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) that the 24th patient’s residence should be publicized to prevent further panic, Chen said that disclosing that information “would not do much good,” as she was hospitalized one day after her emergency room visit on Jan. 29 and her activities prior to that were not considered within the incubation period of the virus.
Separately yesterday, while answering questions at the Legislative Yuan, Chen said that the travel advisories for Japan and South Korea would most likely be elevated from level 1 to level 2, but no flight restrictions have been planned.
Under the government’s three-tier travel advisory system, a level 1 “watch” urges travelers to take normal precautions and respect disease-prevention measures put in place at their destination.
A level 2 “alert” urges travelers to be more vigilant and a level 3 “warning” cautions against nonessential travel.
The government yesterday dispatched a charter flight operated by China Airlines (中華航空) to repatriate Taiwanese from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama Harbor from Feb. 4 due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
A total of 28 Taiwanese — 24 passengers and crew, three passengers with dual citizenship and one commissioned doctor — were on the cruise liner, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung (何啟功) said.
Apart from a Taiwanese-US dual national who decided to fly to Hong Kong and those hospitalized in Japan after testing positive for COVID-19, a total of 20 people boarded the charter flight, which arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last night, he said.
Repatriation procedures were to be more rigorous than an earlier evacuation of Taiwanese from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, Ho said, adding that on the about 150-seat flight from Japan, those with symptoms of the virus over the past 14 days would be separated from those who have been symptom-free.
A test for the virus would be conducted after landing, followed by another test two days later, he said, adding that people who test negative in both would be sent to a quarantine center, where they would spend another 14 days.
People who test positive in either test would be hospitalized immediately, he added.
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