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Homeland Security

Hospital identified as possible site of transmission in Pingtung Delta cluster

ROC Central News Agency

06/29/2021 10:27 PM

Pingtung, June 29 (CNA) Authorities in Pingtung County said Tuesday that six people from a cluster of COVID-19 cases involving the highly infectious Delta variant recently visited Fangliao General Hospital, raising concerns that some of them may have been infected there.

The cluster in Pingtung originated with a woman and grandson in Fangshan Township, who returned to Taiwan from Peru on June 6.

As of Tuesday, it had grown to 14 cases, of which nine have been confirmed as belonging to the Delta variant first detected in India.

At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said investigators had found that six people in the cluster, including the two cases at its origin, visited Fangliao General Hospital during the middle of this month.

According to Pan, the woman and her grandson who returned from Peru spent over 10 hours in the hospital's emergency room on June 14, while waiting for the results of their COVID-19 tests and being treated with IV drips for symptoms they had developed.

The same day, a farmer in Fangliao Township and his wife, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively, visited the hospital for outpatient appointments, Pan said.

Two days later, on June 16, the farmer and his wife visited the hospital again, as did a couple who live next door to the woman and grandson who returned from Peru, and have since contracted the disease, Pan said.

Meanwhile, a taxi driver who drove one of the neighbors to the hospital that day was also infected, and is believed to have passed the virus on to several others, according to data released by the county government.

While the six individuals visited different parts of the hospital, it is possible that they may have had brief contact in a restroom or at the hospital pharmacy, which is why the hospital cannot be ruled out as a possible site of transmission, Pan said.

In response to these concerns, Pan said the county government had ordered the closure of the hospital's emergency and outpatient services through June 30, pending COVID-19 testing of its 332 staff members.

In the cases of the farmer and his wife, who visited the hospital multiple times for outpatient services, authorities have identified 399 high-risk potential contacts and had them admitted to government quarantine centers, Pan said.

More broadly, Pan said, the county government has set up a mobile operations center in Fangliao, and is in the process of testing and vaccinating the residents of two hotspot communities in Fangshan.

As of Tuesday, a total of 4,691 people have received COVID-19 tests at public testing stations in Fangliao and Fangshan, of which 3,133 results have come back negative, he added.

(By Kuo Chih-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)

Enditem/AW



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