The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday extended a nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert for two more weeks, as it reported nine locally transmitted infections, seven imported cases and no new COVID-19 deaths.
The two-week extension, which starts today and ends on Sept. 20, would include updates to some current restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news conference in Taipei.
The main changes include increasing passenger capacity on trains and tour buses, increasing the number of people permitted at certain tourist sites, and conditionally reopening showering facilities, spa areas and children’s pools at sports venues, Chen said.
Capacity on tour buses is to increase to 80 percent of seating, he said, adding that passengers must wear masks at all times and would not be allowed to eat or drink.
National scenic areas and amusement parks would be permitted to increase capacity to 80 percent of their maximum, he said.
Sales of tickets for reserved seating on all Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp trains would be allowed, while standing tickets would not be permitted, he added.
Photo courtesy of the Executive Yuan via CNA
All recent local infections were in New Taipei City and linked to a previous case reported on Sunday — a preschool teacher who tested positive for COVID-19 along with her husband, Chen said.
Eight of the cases are preschool students and one is a parent, he said.
“We expect there might be more cases not yet found in the cluster,” he said. “We have asked the New Taipei City Government to use strict standards in identifying people at risk of infection. Some have been placed under home isolation as a precaution.”
As the preschool has an after-school tutoring service used by a different group of teachers and students, the CECC asked the city government to test them and place them under home isolation, he said.
“We are quite concerned about the cluster, as the positive testing rate so far has been high,” he said, adding that among 75 close contacts who were identified for testing, 49 have been tested and nine have tested positive.
Six people in the group have tested negative, while 34 were waiting for the results of their tests and 26 have yet to be tested.
Among 109 close contacts of the preschool teacher and her husband, 60 people have been placed under home isolation and 49 have been asked to perform self-health management, the center said.
Regarding the imported cases, five of them are crew of a cargo ship that docked at Kaohsiung, Chen said, adding that the remaining crew members were being isolated in separate compartments on the ship.
The genomic sequencing of a virus sample taken from an aircrew cluster reported last week — which included two fully vaccinated Eva Airways Corp (長榮航空) cargo pilots and a son of one of them — showed that they were infected with the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, Chen said.
The viral sequence of the three cases was not the same as a previous vaccine breakthrough infection case — an EVA Airways pilot reported on Aug. 28 — although they were all infected with the Delta variant, he said.
Even though everyone at the school attended by the pilot’s son tested negative, the center has sent a letter to the parents and students, urging them to avoid unnecessary outings and to practice social distancing at home, he said.
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