Three passengers who on Sunday arrived on the first direct flight from the UK since stricter rules were imposed on travel from the country are among eight new imported COVID-19 cases the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported yesterday.
The new cases bring the nation’s total number of COVID-19 infections to 793, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a press conference.
All 114 passengers on the UK flight were tested for COVID-19 shortly after they arrived, Chen said, adding that of the three who tested positive, one is a Taiwanese teenager who had a fever upon arrival.
The teenager had a cycle threshold (CT) value of 15.7, indicating a relatively high viral load, Chen said.
The CECC considers a CT value of less than 35 an indicator of COVID-19.
Another Taiwanese teenager and a British man in his 30s also tested positive for COVID-19, but were asymptomatic with CT levels of 33.5 and 34.5 respectively, indicating that they had been infected for a long time, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesman.
The other passengers, who all tested negative for COVID-19, are in centralized quarantine, Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission Director Wang Pi-Sheng (王必勝) said.
Three of the other new imported cases also traveled recently from the UK, including a British man in his 20s who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 20 and tested positive yesterday after he had swollen tonsils and an earache while in quarantine, Chen said.
He had contact with a family member in Taiwan, who has been instructed to quarantine for 14 days, Chen added.
A Taiwanese man in his 20s who traveled to the UK in February to study, developed a fever, sore throat, runny nose and muscle aches after returning on Tuesday last week, after which he tested positive for the disease, Chen said.
A British man in his 20s, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 29, but later tested negative for the disease four times from Dec. 9 to Monday last week, arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday last week, Chen said.
On Sunday, he was tested as part of a mass testing of people with a recent UK travel history, and the results came back positive, although he had no symptoms, Chen said.
As 15 people who sat near him on the plane to Taiwan were in transit to a third country, the CECC would notify them through the IHR National Focal Point, Chen said.
All arrivals from the UK, as well as travelers who had visited the country in the past two weeks, are required to quarantine in designated facilities and must be tested for COVID-19 at the end of the 14-day period, according to regulations the CECC began implementing on Wednesday last week.
All passengers from the UK are also being tested upon arrival.
Regarding whether any of the 1cases from the UK were infected with a new strain of COVID-19 reported in the country, Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said it would take at least three days to conduct a genome sequence analysis to make that determination.
The other two cases reported yesterday are migrant workers in their 20s, a woman from the Philippines and an Indonesian man, Chen said.
Although Taiwan has banned the entry of Indonesian migrant workers since Dec. 4, due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country and concerns over the credibility of test results issued there, exceptions have been made for those hired to work on Taiwanese ships.
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