176 people who came in close contact with Taiwan’s COVID-19 case No. 771 have tested negative for COVID-19, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, rebutting rumors about possible activity history with links to the nation’s first domestic case of the novel coronavirus since April.
The contacts of the case, reported by the CECC on Tuesday, underwent nucleic acid tests for COVID-19, as well as antibody tests, with all results returning negative, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news conference in Taipei.
More testing would be conducted if needed, he added.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
Information on individual COVID-19 cases would be announced by the center, he said, urging the public not to spread information they have obtained from other sources, as this might contravene the law.
The CECC on April 1 published guidelines for the release of information about confirmed COVID-19 cases, Chen said.
The guidelines were implemented in accordance with the Freedom of Government Information Act (政府資訊公開法), the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) and the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), he said.
Information on case No. 765 — the source of infection of case No. 771 — and the public places the case has visited while possibly being contagious, have been made public in accordance with the guidelines, Chen said.
As the center could identify contacts associated with the case’s other activities, it would not release that information, he said.
Case No. 765, a New Zealand pilot, was on Wednesday fired by EVA Airways over breaches of Taiwan’s COVID-19 control protocols.
EVA Air said that the pilot contravened disease prevention regulations, including the Communicable Disease Control Act, and damaged the airline’s reputation.
When media and members of the public spread COVID-19-related information, they should follow the CECC’s guidelines, Chen said.
If the release of false information results in needless panic among the public; the circulation of rumors; the infringement of others’ personal data; the undermining of the operations of institutions; or the waste of public resources, those involved may be subject to penalties or be legally liable, the center said.
Rumors that case No. 771 participated in a marathon in Taipei are false, Chen said.
The center yesterday reported no new cases of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday said that it is to fine EVA Air NT$1 million (US$35,023) for its flight crew members’ breaches of disease prevention and health control measures.
As of yesterday, Taiwan had reported a total of 776 COVID-19 cases, 681 of which have been classified as imported, 635 have recovered, 134 are in hospital and seven have died, CECC data showed.
Additional reporting by Hsiao Yu-hsin and CNA
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