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Homeland Security

Over 700 naval personnel complete COVID-19 quarantine

ROC Central News Agency

05/03/2020 07:53 PM

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Over 700 navy personnel quarantined because of a cluster COVID-19 coronavirus infection on board a naval ship, could be released Monday morning pending final test results, according to Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The cluster infection of 31 military personnel and cadets infected with the virus occurred on the Navy's Panshi Fast Combat Support Ship, which was part of a three-ship "Fleet of Friendship" that visited Palau from March 12-15.

The fleet returned to the Zuoying military port in Kaohsiung on April 9, with the crew remaining on board for another six days to comply with CECC quarantine requirements that passengers cannot disembark from ships until at least 30 days after leaving their most recent port of call.

Those on board were finally allowed to leave the ships and return home on April 14-15.

Confirmed infections began on April 18, which led to all personnel on the Panshi and the other two ships in the fleet -- the Yueh Fei, a Cheng Kung-class guided-missile frigate, and the Kang Ding, a Lafayette-class frigate -- being collectively quarantined that day to prevent community spread of the virus.

A total of 713 people were quarantined, according to the CECC.

At the CECC's daily press briefing on Sunday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said the two-week quarantine period for the military personnel finished in the day and all 713 were tested in the morning with results expected soon.

If the results are confirmed to be negative, they will be released from quarantine centers and asked to follow self-health management protocols at home, Chen added.

"The government gives its sincere apologies for the panic caused due to the incident," Chen said.

In the future the Navy will equip vessels with polymerase chain reaction testing when they embark on long voyages, he said.

Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) also reiterated the Ministry of National Defence's apologies for the incident.

"We hope the public will still afford us their love and encouragement, because those are the source of our morale in defending our country and citizens," he said.

As of Sunday, 1,995 people had been listed as having come into contact with the 31 confirmed cases, of which 584 are in home isolation, the CECC said.

Among those in home isolation, 484 have been tested for COVID-19, of which 480 tested negative and the other four have yet to receive their results, the CECC said.

The remaining 1,411 contacts have been asked to practice "self-health management," which means wearing a mask at all times, recording their temperature twice a day, and minimizing the time they spend in public, according to the CECC.

(By William Yen)


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