The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 72 imported and six local cases of COVID-19, and elaborated on local cases linked to a restaurant cluster in Taoyuan.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that among the imported cases, 46 were confirmed positive at the airport upon arrival, while 26 tested positive during quarantine.
Twenty-three arrived from the US and 10 from Canada, while there were one to three cases each from six other countries, he said, adding that 27 cases are still being investigated.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
While the number of inbound travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday was expected to peak on Friday, with 4,278 passengers listed for arrival, Chen said that only 3,836 people actually arrived.
Among the 694 long-haul passengers tested immediately after landing, 47 tested positive, including one previous case, so the test positivity rate was 6.77 percent, he said.
As dozens of local cases have been linked to a cluster at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, another round of polymerase chain reaction testing was on Thursday conducted on 1,938 high-risk frontline workers at the airport, Chen said.
The workers included janitors, security guards, baggage cart handlers and disease prevention taxi drivers, and their results all were negative, he said.
Expanded testing was on Friday conducted on 6,199 other airport workers, and all results were negative, Chen said, adding that 148 people have yet to be tested.
If no new cases are found among airport workers before Saturday next week, the airport can be considered safe again, he added.
Regarding the new local cases reported yesterday, Chen said that two are classmates of a student — case No. 17,774 — who was working at a steakhouse in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) when employees of a Union Bank of Taiwan branch had a year-end party there on Friday last week.
Fourteen employees of the branch tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and one of them on Tuesday last week came into close contact with an infected client — case No. 17,472 — a personal care aide, whose husband, a baggage cart handler at the airport, also contracted the virus, he said.
Another new local case is a cousin of case No. 17,774, who lives with her, Chen said, adding that classes at the junior-high school where she studies have been suspended for two weeks, and 176 people linked to the case have tested negative for COVID-19.
The other three new local cases ate at the steakhouse.
Two of them sat close to the bank employees, while the other — case No. 17,847 — ate there at noon on Sunday last week, Chen said.
Ninety-five colleagues of case No. 17,847 have tested negative, while four people who work in the same department as him have been put in isolation, he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said genome sequencing showed that three bank employees had contracted the same strain of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 as the personal care aide and her husband, as well as Taoyuan airport janitors.
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