A Japanese man on Saturday tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Japan from Taiwan, and a Hong Kong man who returned to the territory tested positive on Sunday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) told a news conference yesterday.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that it was informed by the Japanese government via its National Focal Point, a communication portal within the WHO’s International Health Regulations, that a man who returned from Taiwan tested positive for the virus, although he was asymptomatic.
The man is an engineer in his 30s who entered Taiwan on June 15 and remained in isolation until June 29 before working at an office in northern Taiwan, Chen said, adding that the man was tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center via CNA
Contact tracing was initiated upon receiving the information and 80 people who had close contact with the man have been identified, including people he encountered at his workplace, hotel, shops and on the same flight to Taiwan, Chen said.
As of yesterday afternoon, 36 of the contacts have been ordered into isolation at home and eight had departed Taiwan, while 71 of the 72 still in the nation have been tested for the virus, he said.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests of 39 people were negative, while the remainder were still being evaluated, he said, adding that 33 people returned negative results in antibody tests, with the remainder still being evaluated.
The CECC closed two other investigations after a student tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Japan in late June and a migrant worker tested positive after returning to Thailand late last month, he said, adding that the cases were not a threat locally.
Tests on close contacts and others considered at higher risk in the two closed investigations were all negative, Chen said.
The Japanese student tested negative in an antibody test in Japan on July 18, while a second PCR test on the Thai worker on Monday was “uncertain,” he said.
In the case of a Belgian engineer who tested positive before his planned departure from Taiwan last week, PCR and antibody tests have been conducted on 461 people he had contact with, Chen said, adding that so far 444 PCR tests and 271 antibody results have been negative, with the remainder still being evaluated.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities said that a man who returned from Taiwan on Monday last week tested positive for COVID-19.
However, as the man had broken quarantine regulations after arriving at his hotel in Hong Kong, the territory was treating it as a local infection, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.
The CDC would conduct contact tracing after receiving further information from Hong Kong authorities, Chuang said.
The man had attempted to travel to Taiwan again, but was stopped at the airport, authorities said, adding that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Among 30,056 people who traveled from Taiwan to five countries that conduct testing on all arriving travelers — China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand — in June and last month, only three positive cases — the Thai worker, the Japanese student and the Belgian engineer — were reported, a rate of 0.08 percent, Chen said.
“Taiwan has reported no domestic cases for a long time, but that does not mean there is no risk of local infection,” he said. “However, we believe the risk is very low.”
While the CECC promotes a “new disease prevention lifestyle” as it seeks to boost social distancing and mask use to 70 to 80 percent, observations show that only 30 to 50 percent of people in Taiwan follow its guidelines, Chen said.
The center strongly advises people to wear masks in crowded and confined spaces, he said.
“There are eight situations in which people should take particularly care to wear a mask,” he said. “They are: when at a healthcare facility; on public transportation; at marketplaces — including department stores, hypermarkets, traditional markets and night markets; at places of learning, including cram schools; at performances or competitions; at places of worship, including temples and churches; at recreational facilities, including movie theaters, karaoke establishments, pubs and dance halls; and at large events,” he said.
Meanwhile, due to a rapid increase of confirmed cases in Japan, that nation has been removed from a list of low to medium-low infection risk areas that short-term business travelers can apply to have a shortened quarantine period upon their return to Taiwan, Chen said.
Asked whether members of a delegation led by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar would face quarantine upon arrival, Chen said that they would not be quarantined, but would be kept in a “diplomatic bubble.”
Members of the delegation would need to provide a negative PCR result from a test conducted within three days of their arrival in Taiwan, arrive on a chartered plane, receive another PCR test upon arrival in Taiwan, stay at a quarantine hotel, act as a group and avoid exposure to the general public, he said.
High-standard disease prevention measures would be maintained during meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other officials, Chen said.
He and previous health ministers are glad to hear that Azar would visit Taiwan, as it symbolizes a big step forward for Taiwan, Chen said.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft