A growing cluster of COVID-19 cases that started at a religious gathering in Taipei has become an issue of major concern, as all but one of 16 new domestic cases recorded yesterday were linked to the gathering, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.
The first case in the cluster was confirmed on Sunday — a male New Taipei City resident who had contracted the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 — and since then the number has grown to 30, including 15 reported yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference.
The man’s roommate and three other contacts are among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, Chen said, adding that one of them had been part of the religious gathering in Taipei on Sunday.
On Thursday, eight people who were at the gathering were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, while 15 of the 16 new domestic cases reported yesterday were also linked to the cluster — seven in New Taipei City, five in Taipei, two in Kaohsiung and one in Tainan, he said.
The CECC sees the cluster as a matter of major concern, given that people who attended the gathering on Sunday traveled from across Taiwan, he said.
Local authorities are working on contact tracing of confirmed cases in an effort to contain the spread of the disease, Chen added.
Meanwhile, the one other new domestic case reported yesterday was the child of a Tainan resident who had tested positive on Wednesday after he visited a friend in Kaohsiung, the CECC said.
The friend is the relative of an employee at the Dalin Refinery Plant in Kaohsiung, which has been the site of another domestic cluster of nine cases that is now under control, as about 3,000 contacts have tested negative, Chen said.
Two of the employee’s relatives, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, were confirmed to be infected with the Omicron BA.2 variant of SARS-CoV-2, which had caused a cluster linked to the Port of Kaohsiung, he said.
At a separate news conference, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that two new COVID-19 cases were reported in the city on Thursday which were part of the religious gathering cluster.
One is an employee at a Yageo Corp factory in Kaohsiung and 180 of his 392 identified contacts have tested negative so far, the mayor said.
In Tainan, the city government said that 71 people had been listed as contacts of a woman who was part of the religious gathering, while 41 have been identified as contacts of her child, who tested positive after being placed in quarantine.
Thirteen of yesterday’s new domestic cases were classified as breakthrough infections, while three were unvaccinated, including a boy under the age of 10 who is not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Taiwan, the CECC said.
In addition to the domestic cases, the CECC reported 51 imported cases yesterday.
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