The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday raised its travel advisory for Iran to a level 2 “alert” due to increased risk of COVID-19 infection, and confirmed a new case in Taiwan — a foreign caregiver who had been taking care of a previously confirmed case.
“The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Iran has been continuously growing, although the number of confirmed cases it reported was not so high, so we think the epidemic situation is relatively serious,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
The level 2 “alert” means people are advised to take increased precautions when visiting Iran, he said.
The number of COVID-19 cases outside China was still serious as of yesterday, with South Korea, Italy, Japan, Iran, Singapore and Hong Kong having confirmed more cases, Chen said, adding that the CECC and other agencies would continue to closely monitor the situations in those countries.
Meanwhile, Chen said the nation’s 32nd case of COVID-19 was confirmed yesterday.
She is a 31-year-old foreign caregiver, who was taking care of the nation’s 27th confirmed case — a man in his 80s who is living in northern Taiwan — when he was hospitalized for pneumonia.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Four of the octogenarian’s family members — his wife, two sons and a grandson — have tested positive for the virus.
A contact investigation for the foreign caregiver is being carried out and a health department is investigating her movements from Feb. 16 to Monday, Chen said, adding that the places she went to might be publicized if the center considers it necessary.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that the woman looked after the octogenarian from Feb. 11 to Feb. 16 while he was in hospital, and after he tested positive for the virus, the department started looking for her.
As the woman was working illegally, the department had to ask police to help search for her, he said, adding that they found her on Monday night and she had a mild sore throat.
CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that all medical professionals who had close contact with the caregiver tested negative for COVID-19, so the contact investigation is mainly to find people she had close interaction with outside the hospital.
Meanwhile, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said that the 134 hospitals designated to handle infectious diseases would within a week expand their number of isolation wards and would specialize only in handling people with suspected respiratory disease or severe pneumonia with novel pathogens.
Strict access control would be required for the specialized wards and healthcare personnel working in the wards would not perform duties in other departments to avoid cross infection, he said.
Previously, only four to six isolation wards were allowed per 100 hospital beds, but the restriction would be temporarily lifted at these hospitals, Shih said, adding that patients without pneumonia-like symptoms would be admitted to other hospitals.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
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