An American man was yesterday confirmed as Taiwan’s 50th COVID-19 case, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said, adding that it would consider placing certain US states on the nation’s travel advisory list.
The coronavirus outbreak in the US has almost reached “a critical point” and Taiwan could issue a travel warning for the US, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
However, due to the size of the US, the center would issue the advisories at the state or regional level, he added.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Chen did not answer media queries on whether the US capital, Washington, and the states of Washington, New York and California would be listed first.
Taiwan’s newest case is an American office worker in his 50s who lives in central Taiwan and might have contracted the disease after hosting two American couples on Feb. 24, Chen said.
The man was on Saturday last week hospitalized in a quarantine ward after experiencing chills, coughing and a fever for more than a week, and his positive test result was confirmed yesterday, he said.
The man is enrolled in the National Health Insurance program, but the cost of his hospitalization would be covered by the central government per the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.
A CECC investigation found that one of the man’s friends had experienced chills, coughing and fatigue on the group’s arrival on Feb. 24, while their partner exhibited similar symptoms after leaving Taiwan on Feb. 26, Chen said.
A relative of the couple living in Seattle was on Tuesday confirmed to be infected, he said.
One member of the other couple also exhibited respiratory symptoms after leaving Taiwan, also on Feb. 26, he added.
Judging from his contact history, the 50th case was likely infected by his friends, Chen said, adding that while the man developed symptoms in Taiwan, the cause of infection was probably from abroad.
The CECC has identified 64 people who had contact with the 50th case, and it would continue to investigate the places the man and his friends visited while they were in Taiwan, he said.
Asked about the effects of a month-long lockdown of Manila on Philippine workers in Taiwan and Taiwanese in the Philippines, Chen said that while he is not sure about the severity of the situation, the outbreak in the capital, or even the entire nation, might be more serious than its confirmed cases imply.
The CECC would maintain communication with Taiwan’s representative office, travelers and businesspeople in the Philippines to obtain more information about the local situation, he said.
In related news, the 361 Taiwanese who were evacuated from China on charter flights earlier this week have all tested negative for the novel coronavirus, Chen said.
They remain housed in several quarantine facilities and the CECC would continue to monitor their health, he said.
The CECC said that it is developing an information system to monitor the whereabouts and health of people undergoing 14-day self-health management — a quarantine measure for people returning from countries or regions under a level 1 or 2 travel advisory.
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