Thu, Feb 13, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Outbreak: Hualien owner closes pool after incident

HEALTH CONCERNS:The fitness center operator decided to suspend operations until March 31 after a person who broke quarantine was spotted near its pool

By Hua Meng-ching and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A temporary closure sign is attached to the shutters of Yawei fitness club in Hualien City yesterday after a member who was supposed to be under quarantine swam in the club’s pool on Saturday last week.

Photo: Hua Meng-ching, Taipei Times

A fitness center in Hualien City has voluntarily closed until the end of next month after a member who was under quarantine was seen in the pool area.

The member had been aboard the cruise ship SuperStar Aquarius, which docked in Keelung on Saturday last week, and although none of the passengers showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection, all passengers were required to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days.

When the member visited the fitness center’s pool the day after the ship docked, the person was recognized by another member and was asked by staff to leave.

The fitness center owner said that when confronted, the member who had been on the cruise ship said: “Why don’t you tell someone to come catch me then?”

“An argument ensued and everyone started watching, and then one of the staffers came over and told the member that to comply with disease-prevention regulations, [the member] cannot use the pool,” the owner said.

On Tuesday, the center posted a notice at the entrance saying it would be closed until March 31 amid concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The person in question had broken quarantine as they had not exhibited symptoms and felt they were healthy, Hualien Health Bureau Deputy Director Chung Mei-chu (鍾美珠) said, adding that the bureau had already warned the person not to break quarantine again.

Whether the fitness center should close is fully at the discretion of the owner, Chung said.

Asked whether there were other people in Hualien who had been aboard the cruise ship, Chung said she was not at liberty to answer the question.

As to whether the person who broke quarantine would be penalized, she said the county has not made a decision.

The public should not worry, as the bureau would follow up with anyone who is under quarantine to ensure they do not break regulations, she said.

Central Epidemic Command Center rules state that people under self-quarantine should take their temperature once every morning and once every evening; avoid going outdoors as much as possible; report any health anomalies to officials; and wear a mask at all times if they need to go outdoors, bureau official Hsieh Shu-hui (偕淑惠) said.

The fitness center has received more than 100 calls from concerned members, particularly from older members who were at greater risk of falling ill, the owner said.

In response to these concerns, the center chose to voluntarily close the center and thoroughly disinfect it, the owner said.

The center would use the time to take care of needed renovations, the owner said.

All memberships would be extended after the center reopened, the owner added.

All center staff would help with the disinfecting and renovations, and would continue to be paid as normal during the closure, the owner said.

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