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Military chief in 'self-health management' after COVID-19 cases

ROC Central News Agency

04/18/2020 10:16 PM

Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) will be required to manage his health after three cadets were confirmed Saturday with COVID-19 after returning from a mission to Palau, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The precaution comes after Huang attended a ceremony on April 15 marking the end of the training program of the Navy's "Fleet of Friendship" fleet, on which the three cadets served.

Although Huang kept a proper distance from the cadets at the ceremony, he and some other military officers accompanying him have been placed under a self-health management protocol for 14 days for safety's sake, according to military spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文).

People under self-health management are required to minimize the time they spend in public, wear a surgical mask at all times and practice common hygiene to avoid infecting others.

They must also take their temperature twice daily and report any suspected symptoms to the 1922 epidemic monitoring hotline.

With Huang sidelined to some extent, the MND said it has come up with contingency measures to maintain the Armed Forces' combat capability.

Huang assumed his post on Jan. 16 to succeed Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), who was killed in a Jan. 2 military helicopter crash.

The three newly confirmed patients were cadets interning on one of Taiwan's naval ships and likely contracted the disease overseas, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The three new cases boosted the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan to 398.

The "Fleet of Friendship" carried more than 700 officers, servicemen, and cadets from Taiwan's Naval Academy on a goodwill visit to the diplomatic ally of Palau.

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.

The 700 people in the fleet have been placed in quarantine in seven different venues, the CECC said, and they will have their samples taken for testing to determine whether they have been infected by the virus.

The MND expressed regret over the three confirmed cases, and said it hoped the CECC will find out the cause of the infections after a thorough investigation.

The CECC confirmed that one of the cadets developed symptoms of the disease on the ship in early April, but was not confirmed as having the disease until April 17, raising fears of a wider spread of the disease.

Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said Saturday the cadet's temperature was taken and health monitored, and he was reported to be in good condition.

When asked how the cadets could have been infected given that there are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Palau, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, said there was the possibility of hidden cases.

(By Chen Yun-yu, Wen Kuei-hsiang, Fan Cheng-hsiang and Frances Huang)


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