The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported three cases of COVID-19, all Indonesians, while saying that it is considering whether Indonesian migrant workers should be conditionally granted entry into Taiwan again.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesman, said that case No. 735 is a man in his 20s, who came to work as a ship crew member on Nov. 24, and he provided a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result from within three days of his flight to Taiwan.
The man did not have any symptoms, but tested positive in a paid test on Thursday after ending quarantine at a hotel, Chuang told a news conference.
The second case, a migrant worker in her 20s, arrived on Nov. 28, provided a negative PCR test result, tested negative again in an extended testing project on Dec. 4, but she experienced bloating and vomiting on Thursday, Chuang said.
The woman — case No. 736 — was tested on Friday before completing centralized quarantine, and the result came back positive, with a low cycle threshold value (CT-value) of 27, indicating a recent infection, he said.
The third case is a migrant worker in her 30s, who came to Taiwan on Nov. 25 and tested negative on Nov. 23, but did not provide the report, he said.
Chuang said that the woman — case No. 737 — did not have any symptoms and tested negative twice on Nov. 28 and on Tuesday while in centralized quarantine, but she later tested positive in a paid test on Thursday.
Asked if the CECC is capable of verifying the authenticity of foreign PCR test result reports, Chuang said that it would work toward asking the representative office in Indonesia to find several testing facilities certified by the local authority, and require migrant workers to provide test reports from them.
Other than the possibility of inauthentic test reports, there are also two reasons why some arriving travelers could have provided a negative PCR report, but still tested positive in Taiwan, he said.
They could have been tested during the incubation period, which is likely in case No. 736; or the person could have been infected for a long period of time and have a low viral load, so some tests might come back negative and some positive, which is likely in case No. 737, Chuang said.
Separately, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, was asked about policies for Indonesian migrant workers, who were temporarily banned from entering Taiwan for two weeks, starting on Dec. 4.
Chen said that the government would discuss whether to conditionally reopen the borders for some Indonesian migrant workers, as there is urgent demand for them in the nation.
Chen was also asked to respond to a report by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday saying that the 10 million COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the CECC are the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Chen said that the center would make an official announcement once the outcome is settled.
The CECC is negotiating with a few vaccine manufacturers and saying too much might be harmful to those negotiations, but the criteria for purchasing vaccines are based on scientific evidence, and specialists would also help determine the vaccines’ efficacy and safety from the clinical trial results, he said.
Chen also urged people not to remove their masks when taking group photographs, jokingly saying that 90 percent of people look better while wearing a mask.
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