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Homeland Security

2 more confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

02/17/2020 10:50 PM

Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) Taiwan reported two more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to bring the number to 22 since the outbreak began, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told reporters that the 21st case was the mother of the 19th confirmed case -- a 61-year-old male living in central Taiwan who became on Sunday the first person in Taiwan to die of the infection.

The 22nd case was the nephew of the deceased man, Chen said.

The two new people infected with the virus are suspected of contracting it at a family gathering on Jan. 27. They developed a fever and a cough between Jan. 28 and Feb. 6, Chen said.

The man who died of the coronavirus passed away in an isolation ward from pneumonia and sepsis after being diagnosed as having contracted the virus shortly before his death.

The patient, who had hepatitis B and diabetes, had not traveled overseas recently and no known contact with coronavirus patients, which raised fears of a community spread of the highly contagious virus in Taiwan.

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), an epidemiologist by profession, argued, however, that there was no community-level transmission.

The vice president said on his Facebook page that while it was still unclear how the victim, who offered private driver services, became infected, most of his clients were travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Therefore, it is "highly possible" that he had contact with people who were infected but asymptomatic, Chen said.

The CECC suspects the driver may have been infected by a Taiwanese businessperson who had just returned to Taiwan from China on Jan. 22 and had a cough.

The passenger later tested negative for the virus, however, but the CECC said the individual will undergo a blood test to determine if he has any antibodies for the virus.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chen Yi-hsuan and Frances Huang)

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