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Homeland Security

Taiwan confirms 1st asymptomatic coronavirus infection

ROC Central News Agency

02/09/2020 06:44 PM

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) Taiwan has reported one more case of infection by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), involving the country's first asymptomatic patient, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 18.

The latest case is that of a man in his 20s, another son of a couple who were diagnosed with 2019-nCoV Thursday after the family transited through Hong Kong Feb. 1 after visiting Italy, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday.

The couple's older son, also in his 20s, tested positive Saturday for coronavirus after developing a cough Jan. 27 in Italy, while his parents started to show symptoms Jan. 26 and Jan. 28, respectively.

The latest confirmed patient is the country's first to be infected with the virus who has not shown any symptoms, although doctors said he has a high viral load.

It is believed the man was exposed to the same origin of the virus -- either the plane, the airport in Hong Kong, or somewhere in Italy -- as his other family members, the CECC noted, adding that it was still unclear whether he is infectious.

Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), deputy director-general of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control and a CECC official, said that 11 of the older son's colleagues who had come into contact with him after he returned to work in Taiwan have been placed in home-quarantine.

The CECC will find the identities of passengers who were seated in the rows behind and in front of the newly confirmed patient. If they are Taiwanese nationals, they will be monitored and if they are foreign, the CECC will inform their countries of the situation, according to Chuang.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said the CECC will discuss with experts on measures to step up screening on people who have had close contact with confirmed patients, including having their samples taken for tests even if they are asymptomatic.

As of Saturday, 71 new suspected cases had been reported in Taiwan, bringing the total number of people suspected of being infected to 1,470, 18 of whom were confirmed and 1,300 of whom have been ruled out, according to the CECC.

The unconfirmed cases are in quarantine, with 98 of them having tested negative but requiring further testing, while the others are still undergoing testing, according to the CECC.

The CECC has advised people to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus.

It said the use of face masks by healthy people is not necessary, but added that people with chronic diseases and respiratory symptoms should wear a mask.


(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao)


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