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Homeland Security

Arrivals from U.K. among 8 new imported COVID-19 cases (update)

ROC Central News Agency

12/28/2020 06:20 PM

Taipei, Dec. 28 (CNA) Three passengers who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, on the first direct flight from the United Kingdom since stricter rules were imposed for travelers from the country, were among eight new imported COVID-19 cases reported in Taiwan on Monday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The new cases brought the total number in Taiwan to 793, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said at a press conference.

Of the 114 passengers on the flight, who all received COVID-19 tests shortly after they arrived, three have tested positive, Chen said.

One of the three is a Taiwanese teenager, who had a fever on arrival, although his temperature was 36.5 degrees Celsius when he checked in for the flight in the U.K. and 36.6 degrees Celsius when he boarded, Chen said.

The teenager had a CT level of 15.7, indicating a relatively high viral load, Chen said.

In Taiwan, a CT level of under 35 is considered a positive test.

The two others on the flight who tested positive for COVID-19 were another Taiwanese teenager and a British man in his 30s, who were both asymptomatic and had CT levels of 33.5 and 34.5 respectively, indicating that they had been infected quite a while ago, said CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥).

The remaining passengers on the flight are all in centralized quarantine, and while four of them have cold symptoms, they have all tested negative for COVID-19, according to CECC official Wang Pi-Sheng (王必勝).

Meanwhile, three of the other new imported cases reported Monday had also traveled recently from the U.K., according to Chen.

He said one of them is a British man in his 20s, who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 20 and tested positive Monday after he developed swollen tonsils and earache while in quarantine.

He had contact with a family member in Taiwan, who has been instructed to quarantine for 14 days, Chen said.

One of the other patients is a Taiwanese man in his 20s, who went to the U.K. in February to study and returned to Taiwan on Dec. 22, after which he developed a fever, sore throat, runny nose and muscle pains, Chen said, adding that a subsequent test came back positive Monday.

The final case from the U.K. recorded Monday was that of a British man in his 20s, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 29. He had tested negative for the disease four times between Dec. 9 and 21, and arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 23, Chen said.

The man was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday, as part of a mass testing of people with a recent U.K. travel history, and the results came back positive Monday, although he had no symptoms, Chen said.

Fifteen people who sat near him on the plane to Taiwan were in transit to a third country, so the CECC will notify them via the IHR National Focal Point, according to Chen.

All arrivals from the U.K., as well as travelers who had visited the country in the past two weeks, are now required to quarantine in specifically designated facilities and tested for COVID-19 at the end of the 14-day period, according to new regulations implemented by the CECC from Dec. 23. All passengers from the U.K. are also being tested on arrival.

On the question of whether any of the new patients from the U.K had the new strain of COVID-19 virus, CECC official Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said it would take at least three days to conduct genome sequence analysis to determine that.

The other two cases reported Monday were two migrant workers, a woman from the Philippines and an Indonesian man, both in their 20s, Chen said.

The woman arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 13 and tested positive before completing quarantine at a government designated center, Chen said.

The man, a fisherman, arrived on Dec. 12 and was required by his labor broker to be tested after completing his quarantine at a hotel, and the results came back positive Monday, Chen said.

Although Taiwan has banned the entry of Indonesian migrant workers since Dec. 4, due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country and credibility problems with the test results issued there, exceptions have been made for those hired to work on Taiwanese ships.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 793 cases of COVID-19, 698 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 654 have recovered, 132 are in hospital and seven have died, according to CECC data.

CECC statistics as of Monday show that COVID-19 has infected over 80 million people in 191 countries and regions, with more than 1.76 million fatalities.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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