UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Homeland Security

Taiwan reports 1st COVID case caused by Colombian variant

ROC Central News Agency

08/13/2021 08:29 PM

Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) A Taiwanese woman who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from the United States in early August has been infected by the coronavirus variant discovered in Colombia, the first case of the new variant in Taiwan.

The woman in her 60s had received two jabs of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the United States in July before arriving back in Taiwan on Aug. 3, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) said at the CECC's regular press briefing Friday.

A deep-throat saliva test the traveler received upon her arrival found she had contracted COVID-19 even though she was asymptomatic, and she was isolated at a government-run quarantine center, Lo said.

Gene-sequencing later found the woman to be infected with the Colombian variant, known as the B.1.621 variant, Lo said, and she was transferred to a negative pressure isolation ward at a hospital.

The patient has been asymptomatic and her viral load has remained low, however, and an evaluation is being conducted to determine if she can be released from isolation, Lo said.

It was the first time the Colombian variant was detected in Taiwan, Lo said, after first being discovered in Colombia in January 2021. The World Health Organization did not put it on its list of COVID-19 variants until May.

Currently the variant has yet to receive a Greek-letter designation as more prominent variants have, Lo added.

According to Lo, the Colombian variant has been reported in at least 28 countries around the world, with about 2 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. caused by the emerging variant.

The variant has received attention worldwide since it was found to be behind a recent cluster infection at a seniors' home in Belgium, where it claimed seven lives despite all the deceased being fully vaccinated.

Lo said there have been no reports indicating the Colombian variant is deadlier, more pathogenic, or more infectious than other variants, but it was found to be endowed with features of both the Alpha and Beta variants.

On Friday, the CECC published the gene-sequencing results of six imported COVID-19 cases from the United Kingdom, the U.S., China, Malaysia and Israel between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12, including the one caused by the Colombia variant.

Four of the other five cases were identified as being caused by the Delta variant that was first discovered in India, and the other case involved the Alpha variant, according to the CECC.

(By Chiang Hui-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list