Taipei police yesterday apprehended a COVID-19 patient after he allegedly escaped from a hospital isolation ward following a scuffle with officers.
The man, surnamed Chen (陳), 71, was arrested at his residence in Wanhua District (萬華) hours after his flight from the hospital, a Taipei Police Department spokesman said.
Chen, a confirmed COVID-19 case who was supposed to be undergoing quarantine, at about half past midnight yesterday allegedly visited the emergency room of Taipei City Hospital’s Renai branch complaining of a headache and insomnia, the spokesman said.
Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
As Chen was known to be infected with COVID-19, doctors placed him in a modular patient unit outside the hospital complex to await medical attention, he said.
At about 3:30am, Chen became agitated and asked for sleeping pills, then beat the unit’s glass divider with a wooden stick, the spokesman said.
The hospital called the police and the responding officers subdued Chen after a short struggle, he said.
Medical personnel then administered a tranquilizer to put Chen to sleep, the spokesman said.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office had issued an arrest warrant for Chen in connection to an unrelated assault that occurred last month, he said.
The responding officers found out about the arrest warrant, but could not take Chen into custody, as they lacked protective equipment and facilities to deal with an infected person, he added.
Later in the morning, Chen woke up in the unit and fled via the back door, avoiding the medical staff watching the area, the spokesman said.
Chen took the MRT to Longshan Temple before returning home on foot, he said, adding that police went to his apartment to arrest him a few hours later.
First responders then returned Chen to quarantine at a medical facility, he added.
The Taipei Department of Health said in a statement that leaving quarantine without permission is a contravention of 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).
Offenders can face two years in prison or a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$2 million (US$7,215 to US$72,150), it said.
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