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Homeland Security

MND releases revised medical records for ship hit by COVID-19

ROC Central News Agency

04/21/2020 12:21 PM

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Monday released revised medical records for a Navy ship hit by a cluster infection of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), showing more visits, including 10 for upper respiratory symptoms.

As of Monday, 24 of the 377 military personnel aboard the Panshi fast combat support ship had been confirmed as having COVID-19, in the first cases of the disease to hit Taiwan's military.

The large number of cases has prompted media speculation that the military tried to conceal the outbreak, which has been fueled by MND revisions of facts related to the mission on which the cluster infection occurred.

The military initially reported on Monday that medical figures showed 70 people aboard the ship making 71 medical visits, with five having a fever.

On Monday evening, however, in response to media reports of a lack of transparency, the MND said that a second review of the ship's medical records found that 148 people aboard the ship sought medical treatment 226 times.

Aside from the five visits for fevers, 10 were for upper respiratory symptoms.

The causes of the other visits were classified as headaches (2), indigestion (18), seasickness, (62), surgical (41), dermatological (23), oral (10), vision-related (11) and general health consultations (44), according to the ministry.

The ministry attributed the discrepancy in the two releases to several factors, including the quarantine of responsible personnel and the ongoing disinfection of contaminated areas on the ship.

It said there has been no attempt to conceal the situation and that it had reported the revised figures to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The Panshi fast combat support ship was one of a three-ship flotilla containing 744 military personnel and students from the naval and political warfare academies that visited Taiwan's diplomatic ally Palau on a training mission from March 12-15.

The flotilla returned to its home port in Zuoying in southern Taiwan on April 9, but people on the ships could not disembark until April 14 or 15 because of a CECC requirement that ships must have visited their last port of call 30 days before people can enter Taiwan.

On Saturday and Sunday, the CECC announced that 24 sailors aboard the ship had been confirmed as having COVID-19, bringing the number of total cases in Taiwan to 420. (The country's total has since increased to 422, with the addition of two new imported cases on Monday).

On Monday, the CECC sent text message alerts to some 200,000 people whose cellphone data showed they had been in the same location as the infected military personnel for 15 minutes or more during the period from April 15 to 18.

The military has apologized for the outbreak, though it defended the purpose of the mission and the precautionary measures taken during the voyage.

(By Matt Yu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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