The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive.
The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a one-year-old infant and a woman in her 20s.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
The infant tested positive upon ending home isolation, with a high cycle threshold (CT) value in a polymerase chain reaction test, indicating a low viral load, he said.
The woman was in France and the UK from May to July, and when she returned to Taiwan she tested negative twice while quarantined in a government facility, Chen said.
She took an out-of-pocket test on Sunday in preparation to travel abroad and tested positive with a high CT value, he added.
The woman told health officials that she tested positive for COVID-19 while studying abroad in September last year, but tested negative several times when she returned to Taiwan in March and July this year, and had received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in June, Taipei Department of Health Senior Executive Officer Ou Chia-ling (歐佳齡) said.
The woman visited several public spaces in Taipei before testing positive on Sunday, including two department stores and a movie theater, which she visited on Saturday and Sunday, Ou said, adding that the facilities were closed yesterday for disinfection.
A total of 493 people who visited the sites at about the same time received a text message informing them to monitor their health and seek medical attention if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, Ou said.
She also visited Changhua County, Kaohsiung, New Taipei City and Tainan, and the local health departments there have been informed, Ou added.
The CECC has temporarily deemed the case a locally transmitted infection, but would test her for antibodies to clarify the situation, Ou said.
The four imported cases are from Cambodia, Indonesia and the US.
Genome sequencing on the virus sample from a previous case — case No. 16,213, a female worker at Taoyuan airport in her 20s, reported on Wednesday last week — showed that she might have contracted the virus from the same source as a previous imported case, No. 16,176, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division.
He said that the airport worker disinfected 41 plane cabins from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, which included flights that carried two confirmed COVID-19 cases, including case No. 16,176 from Turkey.
The sequencing results showed that there was only one nucleotide site difference among more than 30,000 in the results of the other two cases, Lo said, adding that she might have contracted the disease from a contaminated plane cabin, as she did not have contact with the crew or passengers.
Eleven transiting flight crew members and passengers of the same flight as the case from Turkey had left Taiwan, so they were not tested for COVID-19 at the airport, but surveillance camera footage showed that the worker wore protective clothing when disinfecting the cabin, he added.
Chen said that 397 people who have been in contact with the airport worker have tested negative for COVID-19.
Ninety passengers who were on the same flight as case No. 16,176 were placed under home isolation until today, and have so far tested negative for the disease, Lo said.
In related news, online booking for vaccine appointments opened at 10am yesterday for people aged 18 to 22, 65 and older and those 40 and older with prior health conditions who wished to receive their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Within three hours of registration opening, 572,678 people booked appointments, the CECC said.
Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday booked their appointments to receive their second shots of Medigen Vaccine Biologics’ (高端疫苗) vaccine, which they are to receive on Sept. 30.
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