The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday reported 43 COVID-19 cases, including three domestic infections linked to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that were initially reported on Wednesday evening.
The three domestic cases are women in their 50s and 60s who work as cleaners at the airport, the CECC said.
Eight domestic COVID-19 infections linked to the airport have been reported in the past week, including seven janitors and a taxi driver tasked with taking passengers to and from quarantine facilities.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
Three of the cleaners and the taxi driver have been confirmed as having the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, although genome sequencing has not yet been completed to determine whether their infections are related, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division.
The eight patients are all considered breakthrough infections and they have so far only had mild symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever, Lo said.
The cleaners work the night shift at the airport, and some of them take the same shuttle bus to and from work, clean the same sections at the airport or are in the same job training group, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
One of them did not have a regular cleaning station and worked in different areas of the airport as needed, he added.
The remaining 881 cleaners who work at the airport have tested negative for COVID-19, as have 576 taxi drivers who transport arrivals to quarantine locations, the CECC said, adding that they would be tested regularly, while cleaners who might have had contact with the confirmed cases are in quarantine.
Janitors at the airport are to have assigned seating on shuttle buses, as the center found that they had not been closely following the policy, Chen said.
Family members and those living with the eight cases have all tested negative for the disease, which is “good,” Chen said.
In addition to the three domestic cases, Taiwan recorded 40 imported cases, of which 31 are breakthrough infections, two are unvaccinated children younger than five, and the vaccination status of seven is being investigated.
The CECC also reported a cluster infection at a quarantine hotel, involving two previously recorded Omicron cases.
They are Taiwanese nationals who returned from Switzerland and the US on Dec. 17 and Dec. 22 respectively, Lo said, adding that their quarantine at a Taipei hotel overlapped by three days, during which they were in adjacent rooms.
Genome sequencing found that the two cases were linked, and it was determined that one of them had been domestically transmitted, Lo said.
The CECC has not yet determined how the disease spread, but the virus was possibly carried in air circulating between the two rooms through gaps in the ceiling, he said.
Five guests who had been staying in the hotel at the same time tested negative, as have 18 hotel employees, Lo said, adding that no new guests would be allowed until the hotel passes a CECC review.
Five cluster infections, comprised of 11 Delta and five Omicron cases, have been confirmed at quarantine hotels in Taipei and Taoyuan since early last month, the CECC said.
The CECC had instructed local authorities to inspect 474 quarantine hotels, of which 119 were ordered to address problems, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.
If improvements cannot be made in the short term, the hotels would be removed from the list of designated quarantine facilities, he said.
The US Department of State yesterday criticized Beijing over its misrepresentation of the US’ “one China” policy in the latest diplomatic salvo between the two countries over a bid by Taiwan to regain its observer status at the World Health Assembly, the decisionmaking body of the WHO. “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to publicly misrepresent U.S. policy,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter. “The United States does not subscribe to the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ — we remain committed to our longstanding, bipartisan one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and
FATES LINKED: The US president said that sanctions on Russia over Ukraine must exact a ‘long-term price,’ because otherwise ‘what signal does that send to China?’ US President Joe Biden yesterday vowed that US forces would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack in his strongest statement to date on the issue. Beijing is already “flirting with danger,” Biden said following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, in which the pair agreed to monitor Chinese naval activity and joint Chinese-Russian exercises. Asked if Washington was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, he replied: “Yes.” “That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said. “We agreed with the ‘one China’ policy, we signed on to it ... but the idea that it can be
INFORMATION LEAKED: Documents from Xinjiang purportedly showed top leaders in Beijing calling for a forceful crackdown and even orders to shoot to kill Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday held a videoconference with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet as she visited Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uighur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region as part of a years-long crackdown the US and lawmakers in other Western nations have labeled a “genocide.” China denies the allegations. Bachelet was expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar on a six-day tour. The US
SUBTLE? While Biden said the US policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on Taiwan had not changed, the group targeted China and Russia without naming them Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US yesterday warned against attempts to “change the status quo by force,” as concerns grow about whether China could invade Taiwan. The issue of Taiwan loomed over a leadership meeting in Tokyo of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) nations — the US, Japan, Australia and India — who stressed their determination to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of an increasingly assertive China, although Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was not targeting any one country. The four leaders said in a joint statement issued after their talks