The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four local COVID-19 cases: three family members of an infected worker at a quarantine hotel and a family member of an infected pilot.
The new cases bring the number of infections involving China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) pilots and the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, where many of the airline’s crew members quarantined, to 24.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said three of them are the husband, son and daughter of case No. 1,129, a woman in her 60s, who works at the hotel.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
The son is in his 30s and began experiencing sore muscles and a cough on Thursday, so he was tested on Friday and the result came back positive yesterday, Chen said, adding that 16 of his close contacts have been placed under home isolation, while 11 others have been ordered to conduct self-health management.
The husband is in his 60s and began experiencing a cough, a fever and diarrhea on Thursday, and was tested on Friday, he said.
The husband and wife traveled to Chiayi and Yunlin counties between April 23 and April 25 and their close contacts have already been identified, Chen said.
The daughter is in her 30s, and began experiencing a cough and a fever on Wednesday and Thursday, Chen said.
She had sought treatment at a clinic, and was tested on Friday, he said, adding that 111 of her close contacts have been placed under home isolation.
The fourth local case is a girl under the age of five, Chen said.
She is the daughter of an infected pilot, and although she did not have any symptoms, her brother tested positive, so she was tested on Friday, he said.
Asked if the hotel and airline cluster was larger than the cluster at Taoyuan General Hospital in January and February, Chen said that 24 cases have been confirmed, exceeding the hospital’s 20 cases.
The hospital cluster resulted in 4,888 people being placed under home isolation, and while the latest cluster has not yet affected that many people, the center cannot rule out the possibility of community spread, he said.
“We cannot yet confirm the risk that the Novotel infections pose to local communities, but we can say for certain that the infection risk is very high for close contacts within families,” Chen said.
“The family members of workers exposed to infection — the top three priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination — will also be eligible for government-funded vaccination starting tomorrow,” he said. “We urge them to get vaccinated, as it is an important protective measure.”
As of yesterday, the CECC has confirmed that four hotel staff members, 10 China Airlines cargo plane pilots, including one who tested positive in Australia, and 10 family members have COVID-19.
Chen said that the expanded testing program for all of China Airlines’ 1,279 pilots has found another pilot — a Russian in his 30s who mostly flew to and from Australia — who tested negative for IgM antibodies and positive for IgG antibodies, suggesting a previous infection.
So far 1,225 pilots have received an antibody test, he said, adding that 1,212 tested negative, 12 tested positive and one person is awaiting their result.
The CECC also reported one imported case, a student from Indonesia.
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