Two new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 reported yesterday indicate that there are likely more unidentified community infections in Taiwan, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
“The situation will persist,” Chen said when asked at the center’s daily news briefing whether COVID-19 continues to spread.
Chen’s comment came after the center reported two new local cases — the fifth and sixth domestic infections this month.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Time
The two cases were an Indonesian caregiver in her 30s and a Taiwanese in her 50s, both residents in Keelung.
The women underwent COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, the CECC said, adding that the caregiver was tested as part of her employment conditions and the Taiwanese to be allowed to care for a hospital patient.
The cases do not seem to be connected, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, adding that their infections are likely not recent.
Despite the initial positive tests, both women have since tested negative in polymerase chain reaction tests after being isolated, Lo said.
Further tests showed that the Indonesian had a cycle threshold (CT) value of 33, while the CT value of the Taiwanese was 33.2, both indicating low viral loads, Lo said.
Although someone from the family that employs the Indonesian tested positive in May, she was not listed as a close contact and not tested, he said.
There is no record of the Taiwanese woman having any previous contact with confirmed cases and authorities are investigating possible sources of the infection, he said.
Because of their low viral loads, it is unlikely that the two cases posed significant infection risk to their communities, Chen said.
Meanwhile, the CECC reported six new imported cases, five foreign nationals in their teens and a Taiwanese in his 60s.
Moreover, the CECC said that it would as early as the first half of next month allow mix-and-match vaccination against COVID-19.
People who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as their first dose would be eligible for second-dose vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is CECC spokesman.
People who received their first dose 10 weeks earlier would be eligible, he said.
The CECC estimates that enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be available next month to make a mix-and-match approach feasible, Chen said.
Chuang said that due to people failing to show up for their vaccine appointments, additional doses might become available.
However, the nation’s vaccine rollout would continue to depend on shipments from abroad, Chuang said.
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