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Homeland Security

Taiwan confirms two new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 44

ROC Central News Agency

03/05/2020 11:20 PM

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday confirmed two new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, involving a woman who was likely infected by the 39th case and a man who returned from the Philippines on Tuesday.

At a press conference, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the 43rd case is a northern Taiwan woman in her 50s who attended floral arrangement classes with the 39th case of the virus, who was diagnosed Feb. 29 after returning from a trip to Dubai and Egypt on Feb. 21.

According to Chen, the woman sat directly across from the 39th case in classes on Feb. 24 and 25, and later developed a fever and sore throat, for which she sought medical attention on Tuesday.

The woman's test results, which were confirmed on Thursday, appeared to come as a surprise to the CECC, which thought that the 39th case had been successfully "contained" and that no one she had contact with had been infected.

The CECC said it is monitoring the family members of the 43rd case, none of whom are currently experiencing symptoms.

The 44th case, meanwhile, involves a northern Taiwan man in his 30s, who traveled to the Philippines between Feb. 28 and March 3.

According to the timeline provided by the CECC, the man began suffering from abdominal pain and diarrhea in the Philippines on Monday, and developed a sore throat and fatigue after returning to Taiwan on Tuesday.

After being tested for the virus on Wednesday, he was diagnosed and quarantined in a negative-pressure isolation room on Thursday, the CECC said.

Based on the man's travel history, the command center said it believes he was infected in the Philippines, and is currently conducting screening on the people he has been in contact with.

The Philippines, which has reported only three cases of the virus as of Thursday, last month briefly included Taiwan in a travel ban it has applied to China, Hong Kong and Macau.

While Taiwan's inclusion in the ban, which lasted from Feb. 10-14, was ultimately lifted, Philippine officials said at the time that travel restrictions would be routinely re-evaluated based on the success of virus response efforts in each respective location.

As of Thursday, Taiwan has reported 44 cases of the virus, including one person who has died and 12 who have been discharged from the hospital following mandatory quarantine periods.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)

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