Second case of U.K. COVID-19 variant recorded in Taiwan
ROC Central News Agency
12/31/2020 08:46 PM
Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) A Taiwanese student who returned from the United Kingdom recently has been confirmed as the second person identified as infected with the U.K. coronavirus variant in the country, the nation's health authorities confirmed Thursday.
The student, who is in his 20s, underwent 14-days of mandatory quarantine after arriving in Taiwan on Dec. 22 and received a test on Dec. 26 when he developed a fever and muscle soreness, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (èŽŠäººç¥¥) said at a press conference Thursday.
The individual, referred to by local health officials as case No. 791, was confirmed as infected with the new variant of the COVID-19 virus on Thursday, Chuang said.
In light of the two cases of the highly transmissible variant, the CECC has been contacting travelers who arrived in Taiwan after Dec. 13 from the U.K. and those who transited through the country over the past 14 days, advising them to take a COVID-19 test prior to the completion of quarantine, the spokesperson said.
Currently, after individuals receive a COVID-19 test in Taiwan, the health authorities sequence the genome of the virus detected in positive results to determine whether the subject is infected with the new variant.
Chuang said that the newly confirmed cases represent very little risk of community transmission, as the first case, which involved a Taiwanese teenager who had a fever, was immediately taken to hospital on landing in Taiwan on Dec. 27.
The second case came into contact with no one during quarantine, Chuang added.
Since Taiwan reported its first COVID-19 patient with the U.K. variant on Wednesday, the nation has rolled out a series of measures to tighten coronavirus controls, which include further restricting the entry of foreign nationals.
Starting Jan. 1, only Taiwanese citizens, foreign residents and people in a few other categories will be allowed to enter the country. This rolls back existing regulations that allow foreign nationals to enter Taiwan for internships, volunteer work, family visits and medical treatment, according to Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (é™³æ™‚ä¸).
When the new regulations take effect on Friday, all passengers will also not be allowed to transit in Taiwan.
Certain categories of people will be exempt from the entry ban, including foreign nationals with Taiwan residency permits and those entering to fulfill business contracts or for diplomatic purposes, according to Chen, who also heads the CECC, at a press conference on Wednesday.
Taiwan will continue to give consideration on a case-by-case basis to citizens of other countries who apply to enter under special circumstances or for emergency purposes, including people from China and its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, Chen noted.
Chen also detailed new quarantine regulations set to take effect from Jan. 15, banning home quarantine, except in cases where the person lives alone or everyone else in the home is also in quarantine.
In such situations, those individuals will be required to sign an affidavit before traveling to Taiwan, declaring that their home circumstances meet the CECC conditions, he said.
All other passengers arriving in Taiwan will be required to quarantine at designated hotels or government-run centers, Chen said, adding that violation of this provision will result in fines ranging from NT$100,000 (US$3,478) to NT$1 million.
On Tuesday, China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways, Taiwan's two major airlines, announced that they will suspend all passenger and cargo flights between Taoyuan and London in January in the wake of the surge in cases in the U.K. caused by the new variant.
(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Wu Hsin-yun, Chiang Yi-ching and Chung Yu-chen)
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