The Moscow Classical Ballet canceled all planned performances in Taiwan after eight members of the troupe tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the tally of infected members to eight.
The three female dancers and one male dancer have been placed under isolation, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a news conference in Taipei.
As of yesterday, Taiwan had reported 757 cases — including the four new cases — with seven fatalities.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The dancers’ tests showed cycle threshold (Ct) values of between 31 and 35, but had low virus counts, Chen said.
Although they were seen purchasing items at convenience stores and practicing with colleagues, the risk of the dancers spreading COVID-19 was low as they wore masks when outside of the hotel, and had designated transportation to and from the hotel, Chen added.
On Nov. 29, the ballet company arrived with proof of negative COVID-19 tests issued within three days of their flight, and the members stayed in a hotel during their quarantine, the center said.
On Monday, the day after completing the quarantine, all of the troupe members were tested for COVID-19 at the request of event organizer udnFunLife Co Ltd (聯合數位文創).
The results for the four dancers returned positive on Wednesday, although none of them showed any symptoms.
Chen clarified that the dancers did not break any laws as they had not exited the quarantine area, saying that they had shopped at convenience stores when they were under self-management.
Those who tested positive have been hospitalized and would be discharged when free of COVID-19 symptoms, Chen said, adding that other troupe members would need to consult the regulations if wanting to leave the country.
Members under home isolation and quarantine are expected to pay for their test afterward, Chen said.
It has been adequately demonstrated that people who test positive after the full 14-day quarantine are not contagious, Chen said.
The center could not force the troupe members to self-isolate after the first members’ test results returned positive for COVID-19, Chen said.
The center had no legal basis to do so, but could only request that the Ministry of Culture and udnFunLife ensure, to the best of their ability, that there would be minimal contact between the performers and audience members, Chen said.
The Moscow Classical Ballet was scheduled to perform Wednesday to Sunday at the National Theater Hall in Taipei and Friday next week to Dec. 27 at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, but ticket holders have been promised refunds.
Yesterday, 44 other troupe members requiring isolation initially refused to move out of the Howard Hotel (福華飯店) in Taipei.
Not an official quarantine hotel, the hotel management might be unable to take care of the foreign visitors, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday.
The Taipei City Government has prepared a quarantine facility for the troupe members, Huang said.
The Russian visitors had refused to communicate with the city government, but after Russian diplomats stepped in to help, the dance company agreed to relocate to the designated facility, Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg (黃世傑) said.
The diplomats proposed that the troupe depart on a charter flight, which the center is considering, Huang said, adding that at least they agreed to move to the facility.
Some of the troupe members had doubts about the COVID-19 test results and some wanted to leave Taiwan right away, udnFunLife chairman Lee Yen-fu (李彥甫) said.
Lee said that he hoped the government could clarify its procedures, including when a performance can be staged following the initial quarantine upon arrival and the interval between COVID-19 tests.
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