Taiwan yesterday reported its first COVID-19 death in eight months after a woman in her 80s with pre-existing health conditions passed away late on Friday. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 post-mortem.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four domestic COVID-19 cases, including the deceased woman (case No. 907), linked to a cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital, as well as six imported cases.
The cluster has so far expanded to 19 people since a doctor (case No. 838) at the hospital was confirmed to have the virus on Jan. 12. He had been treating a patient who had returned from the US.
Case No. 907 was the mother-in-law of a previously reported case (No. 863) who was stationed as a nurse in the hospital’s Ward 10B, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
Case No. 909, a woman in her 20s, is a daughter of the nurse, while case No. 910, in his 80s, is the nurse’s father-in-law, he said.
The nurse’s husband (case No. 864) and daughter (case No. 865) were previously reported as confirmed cases.
The three new cases had previously tested negative and were put under home isolation on Monday last week, he said.
Case No. 907 had chronic kidney disease, diabetes and a medical record of hypertension and heart failure, Chen said.
She started experiencing a loss of appetite, fatigue and a fever on Thursday, and developed a cough and found it difficult to breathe on Friday, he said.
“Case No. 907 had multiple diseases and was already in a poor health condition, so she signed a DNR [do not resuscitate] form on Friday evening, and she passed away late in the night,” he said, adding that her COVID-19 test came back positive yesterday.
Among the family of seven people living together, six have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.
Chen said the only family member who tested negative is the nurse’s sister-in-law, a daughter of case No. 907.
As she was her mother’s main caregiver, she is being isolated in a hospital, as she is considered likely to have been infected, he said.
“Taoyuan General Hospital will assist in making funeral arrangements for case No. 907, as her family members are all isolated for treatment, and it will also offer psychological counseling for the family,” Chen said.
Taiwan’s previous COVID-19 death (case No. 197) was recorded on May 10 last year, he added.
Chen said the other domestic case (No. 908) confirmed yesterday is a man in his 50s who had accompanied his mother to another hospital in Taoyuan on Saturday last week, when a previous case (No. 889) also sought treatment at about the same time in the same area of the hospital.
The man had worn a mask and is not showing any symptoms, but has been under home isolation since Tuesday, because his mother was exposed to case No. 889, Chen said.
They were tested on Friday as close contacts of case No. 889, and the man’s result came back positive, while his mother tested negative, he said.
Meanwhile, Chen said that as of yesterday, 4,093 people associated with the hospital cluster have been placed under home isolation, of whom 319 have been released from isolation.
Chen said while he reports the latest domestic cases with a heavy heart, the COVID-19 situation in the nation has not spun out of control, as the latest cases are still within the “firewall” of people isolated as part of the cluster.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said all the healthcare professionals, patients and related people at the other Taoyuan hospital’s outpatient department and waiting room, where case No. 889 sought treatment, have been tested and placed under isolation.
Both hospitals have been disinfected, he said.
Chen said that people who are under mandatory self-health management are banned from having a meal or attending gatherings outside their home, and are advised to have food delivered or cook at home.
The CECC also reported six imported cases: a Taiwanese who returned from Indonesia, another who returned from the Czech Republic, and a Taiwanese family of four who returned from Brazil.
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