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No signs of Navy COVID-19 cluster transmission in community: CECC

ROC Central News Agency

04/25/2020 09:11 PM

Taipei, April 25 (CNA) A recent Taiwan Navy cluster case involving 31 COVID-19 infections has not yet resulted in any community outbreaks, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday in the wake of escalating concerns in the country.

The 31 cases of the new coronavirus disease come from a cluster infection on board the Panshi, a fast combat support ship that was part of a three-vessel flotilla that visited Palau in mid-March.

The flotilla, which left Taiwan in early March, made a port call in Palau from March 12-15 and returned to Taiwan on April 9, but the crew were not allowed to disembark until April 14-15 because of quarantine restrictions.

All 744 crew on the three ships were placed in quarantine on April 18, following the discovery that some of them had contracted the disease.

In response to questions from the media as to whether the critical observation period for the cluster case will end by April 30, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, did not answer the question directly, saying only that proper contact tracing has been carried out.

The most important issue at hand is to find out if the infection has entered communities from the people on the ships or anyone they may have contacted, Chen said at a daily press briefing.

"It will be a crisis if we have infections that cannot be immediately traced to the source, but at the moment we have no evidence of this," Chen said.

As of Saturday, 1,865 people were listed as having come into contact with the 31 confirmed cases, with 534 required to isolate themselves at home, according to CECC statistics.

Of the 534 people undergoing home isolation, 173 have been tested and 154 found negative, with the rest awaiting results, according to CECC statistics.

Besides the 534 in home isolation, the remaining 1,331 people who had contact with the Panshi's confirmed cases have been asked to practice "self-health management," which means wearing a mask at all times, taking their temperatures twice a day, and minimizing the time they spend in public.

In addition, a further 2,613 people tested between March 30 and April 24 under an expanded testing program have all tested negative, said CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳).

Out of these, 301 are physicians, 1,089 are nurses, 314 are other medical personnel, 342 are non-medical personnel and 567 are staff at caregiving facilities, Chang said.

"This also shows that even after a large number of screenings, there are still no confirmed cases of community transmission," Chang said.

Meanwhile, a total of 28 Taiwanese expatriates in Palau who had contact with Taiwan military personnel during their port call to the western Pacific diplomatic ally have all been tested and have all tested negative, according to Taiwan's foreign ministry.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 429 COVID-19 patients, of which 275 have recovered, according to CECC statistics as of Saturday.

(By William Yen)

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