The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 11 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, including 10 linked to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport cluster, and 49 imported cases.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said two of the new local infections are janitors at Taoyuan airport.
The two tested negative in a first round of expanded testing, but both later experienced symptoms and were confirmed positive yesterday, he said.
Two other local infections are family members of a previously confirmed case, another airport janitor, Chen said, adding that they also tested negative when first tested, but developed symptoms during home isolation.
A suspected cluster of six new cases is likely linked to the airport cluster.
The first case in the suspected cluster is a child — case No. 17,416 — who was taken to a hospital emergency room with a fever, where he tested negative using a rapid test, but tested positive after a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was administered during treatment, Chen said.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
The boy’s mother and uncle, who lives with them, tested positive, as well as a live-in care aide — case No. 17,472 — who took care of the boy’s uncle, he said.
Two other cases in the suspected cluster are two workers who handle baggage carts at Taoyuan airport, Chen said, adding that one of them — case No. 17,473 — is case No. 17,472’s husband.
They tested positive in the airport’s expanded testing program, he said.
Chen said the virus could have been transmitted to the care aide, and she transmitted the virus to the uncle, who gave it to his family members, but more contact tracing and genome sequencing data are needed.
Another likely separate case is a disease prevention taxi driver who works in Taipei, Chen said.
He tested positive for the nucleocapsids and spike proteins in a SARS-CoV-2 antibody test, Chen said, adding that his cycle threshold value was 30.
The case is likely to be a prior infection, but contact tracing continues, he said.
Regarding the Taoyuan airport cluster, CECC specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said that so far there are two clear transmission chains, while other links have yet to be determined.
He said one of them is a disease prevention taxi driver (case No. 17,240) whose viral genome sequence is almost the same as that from an imported case from the US, who took his taxi on Dec. 26 last year.
Chang said another chain likely started with a janitor (case No. 17,307), whose onset of symptoms on Dec. 27 was the earliest among all cases linked to the airport.
Case No. 17,307 cleans the restrooms at the baggage claim area, where an imported case from the US had been on Dec. 24, he said.
She works near case No. 17,238, a janitor, and took the same employee shuttle bus as case No. 17,308, another janitor, of whom two family members tested positive yesterday, Chang said.
Case No. 17,238 took the same employee shuttle bus as four other infected janitors, including case No. 17,239, who had visited the Golden Voice Social Club in Taoyuan, where two members of the club and a family member of theirs also tested positive, he said.
Although the viral genome sequence from case No. 17,307 is unclear, the sequences of the other janitors — excluding the two reported yesterday — and the members of the Golden Voice Social Club and their family member, were the same as the imported case who visited the restroom on Dec. 24, Chang said.
The links between a few other cases associated with the airport cluster have yet to be determined, he added.
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