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Two more China Airlines pilots confirmed with COVID-19

ROC Central News Agency

04/26/2021 04:56 PM

Taipei, April 26 (CNA) Two more cargo pilots at China Airlines (CAL) have been confirmed to have COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases at the carrier to nine, but the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) still does not know how they were infected or if they have infected others in Taiwan.

The two new CAL cargo pilots were among four new cases reported Monday.

One of the pilots, a Taiwanese man in his 30s, flew a cargo flight to the United States on April 6 and returned on April 9. He tested negative for COVID-19 after finishing his five-day quarantine, said CECC chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at a press briefing.

The pilot was assigned to go to the U.S. again between April 19 and 22. After returning to Taiwan, he developed a cough and a fever during quarantine and tested positive for COVID-19 on April 25, said Chen, who is also Taiwan's health minister.

The CECC is not yet sure how he became infected with the disease, Chen said.

Though there have been reports that the pilot attended a public event in Taiwan on April 16, it is unlikely that he was infectious then as he only began to have symptoms a week later, Chen said, and so the CECC will not release information on the event.

Some other CAL pilots who got COVID-19 attended an event at the Taipei Grand Mosque on April 16, but this was not the event referred to by Chen.

The other CAL cargo pilot, a Taiwanese man in his 40s, flew to the U.S. on assignment in early April. After returning to Taiwan, he tested negative upon finishing his five-day quarantine.

After several CAL pilots tested positive for COVID-19, the man received another test on April 25, which came back with positive results, Chen said.

The CECC is also unclear as to how he became infected, Chen said.

Including the two cases reported Monday, nine CAL cargo pilots have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, and so has the teenage son of one of the pilots.

These include two Taiwanese pilots who flew to the U.S. together, two Indonesian pilots (one of whom was confirmed with COVID-19 in Australia) who visited the mosque in Taipei, and five other Taiwanese pilots.

So far, the CECC has not been able to determine how any of the pilots were infected and whether the cases are related to each other.

To determine if there has been a chain of transmission, the CECC is conducting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antibody tests on 1,272 pilots at CAL and the infected pilots' confirmed contacts.

As of Monday, 514 of the 1,272 pilots had received PCR tests, with 511 negative results and three positive results, while 509 had received antibody tests, with 507 negative results and two results pending.

As most of the infected pilots did not go to crowded areas while in Taiwan and many tested positive during quarantine, Chen said these cases will not have much of an impact on the wider community.

When asked about the possibility that the pilots could have been infected at CAL's quarantine facilities in Taiwan, Chen said the CECC has assigned personnel to the facilities to see if disease prevention measures are being properly carried out.

The two other COVID-19 cases reported Monday, classified as imported, involved a Burmese man and a Chinese man who work on the same ship, according to Chen.

The two men, both in their 40s, boarded the ship in Japan in January. Since then, the ship has traveled between Japan and the Philippines multiple times, Chen said.

The men began to show symptoms of COVID-19 on April 22 and April 23, respectively, after which they began to stay in individual rooms on the ship. The ship docked in Taiwan on April 24 and they tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 1,104 cases of COVID-19, 979 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 1,046 have recovered, 12 have died and 45 are in the hospital, according to CECC statistics as of Monday.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 146.6 million people in 193 countries and regions, with more than 3.1 million fatalities, CECC figures show.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)

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