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Taiwan confirms 3 new cases of COVID-19, in military: CECC

ROC Central News Agency

04/18/2020 04:55 PM

Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Three new cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were confirmed in Taiwan on Saturday, all of whom were naval cadets who had spent time on a military ship, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The three newly confirmed patients, who are all in their 20s, were cadets interning on one of Taiwan's naval ships and likely contracted the disease overseas, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, at a daily briefing in Taipei.

The ship was part of a three-ship fleet identified by the Navy as its Dunmu fleet, recently described as the "Fleet of Friendship" that carried around 750 officers, servicemen, and cadets from Taiwan's Naval Academy on a goodwill visit to the diplomatic ally of Palau.

It was the fleet's 14th visit to the Taiwanese ally in the western Pacific Ocean, reports said.

The three cadets, all in their 20s, boarded the same ship on Feb. 21 to visit Palau from March 12-15 and then traveled at sea for nearly 30 days before returning to Taiwan on April 15, the CECC said in a statement.

Of the cases, one of the men started developing a headache and an abnormal sense of smell on April 12, before he left the ship to seek medical attention on April 15 and April 17, the CECC said.

Another man started exhibiting upper respiratory tract swelling and pain, a headache, coughing, and an abnormal sense of smell and sought medical treatment on April 17, the CECC said.

The last patient also experienced an abnormal sense of smell on April 13 and sought medical treatment on April 17, the CECC said.

There were 337 people on the ship on which the patients traveled, the CECC said.

When asked how the cadets could have been infected given that there are currently no confirmed new coronavirus cases in Palau, Chen said there was the possibility of hidden cases.

"We can't say for sure if there are, but we strongly suspect the possibility of hidden cases," Chen said.

Navy Deputy Commander Mei Chia-shu (梅家樹) said all Taiwan Navy personnel from the fleet had their temperatures taken and filled out health forms in accordance with requests from the Palau government before touring the country.

Taiwan Navy personnel also wore masks during all activities while they were in Palau, Mei said.

The more than 700 people serving in the fleet are now undergoing contact tracing, the CECC said.

With the latest cases, Taiwan has accumulated 398 cases of the coronavirus, of which 343 are imported and 55 are domestic, the CECC said.

One hundred and seventy-eight of Taiwan's COVID-19 patients have been released from quarantine, while six have died. The others are still under quarantine and observation at hospitals, the CECC said.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected 2,243,754 patients in 184 countries and regions, including 699,706 in the U.S., 188,068 in Spain, 172,434 in Italy, 168,241 in France, and 133,830 in Germany, with a total of 152,316 fatalities, according to CECC statistics as of Thursday.

(By William Yen)

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