The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported.
The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center via CNA
Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days.
The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician working on an offshore wind project in Changhua County.
He underwent COVID-19 testing to be able to return to his native country, Chen said.
Photo: Liu Pin-chuan, Taipei Times
The man tested positive in two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with cycle threshold values of 34 and 33, which Chen described as a “weak positive,” but still in the positive range for a disease considered to have an incubation period of two to 14 days.
The man was also tested for antibodies, Chen said, adding that his IgM — the first antibody the body makes when it fights a new infection — was negative, while IgG was “strongly positive.”
According to a US Federal Drug Administration fact sheet dated June 12, IgG antibodies generally start appearing about seven to 10 days after infection and often indicate a past infection.
Chen said the case has not yet been classified as an imported or domestic case, because if the man’s IgM is negative and IgG is positive, he might have been infected a long time ago.
The Belgian has been put in an isolation ward in a hospital and 89 people who had come into close contact with him are being monitored, Chen said, adding that 82 of them are under home quarantine, while the other seven are required to monitor their own health.
The Belgian had followed the rules and wore a mask on public transport, but had often gone outdoors, where he sometimes took his mask off, Chen said.
Since his movements are clear, the CECC does not plan to make them public, he said.
Five of the imported cases, men aged between 20 and 80, are from the Philippines, while the other is from Guatemala, Chen said.
They entered the nation from July 15 to Thursday and started to exhibit symptoms from July 10 to Friday, he said.
The new cases raised the nation’s total number of confirmed cases to 474 — 382 imported and 55 domestic cases, as well as 36 cases from the navy’s “Friendship Flotilla” and one case that needs further investigation.
With the pandemic raging overseas, Chen reminded Taiwanese to keep their guard up and always wear a mask when they are indoors — for example in theaters, karaoke bars, elevators and study centers.
He also urged people to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing.
The government would maintain strict border controls, he said, adding that the nation is still safe from the risk of community outbreaks.
“If 80 percent of people often wear masks, the nation would be very safe. If only 70 percent of people did, there could be a problem, but right now the rate is under 30 percent,” he said, reiterating the importance of wearing masks indoors.
‘HARD DECISION’: The international medical society now only refers to Taiwanese groups as from ‘Chinese Taipei,’ after the WHO asked that it make the change Two Taiwanese medical groups have been forced to change the word “Taiwan” in their membership names for the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists (ISRRT) to “Chinese Taipei,” due to a request by the WHO. The two groups are the Taiwan Society of Radiological Technologists (TWSRT) and the Taiwan Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (TAMRT). On Dec. 23 last year, the TAMRT posted on Facebook screenshots of a letter it received from the ISRRT, informing it that the two groups’ membership names would be changed from “Taiwan - TWSRT” and “Taiwan - TAMRT” to “Chinese Taipei - TWSRT” and “Chinese Taipei
‘NO MORE’: Pompeo’s decision was not rushed before the change of administration, but was the result of a long review of Taiwan-US ties, a US assistant secretary said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday announced that the US Department of State is voiding long-standing restrictions on how US diplomats and others have contact with their counterparts in Taiwan, just a little over a week before US president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Pompeo instructed executive branch agencies to consider “all ‘contact guidelines’ regarding relations with Taiwan ... to be null and void.” “For several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate our diplomats, service members, and other officials’ interactions with their Taiwanese counterparts,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States government took these actions
CONTACTS TRACED: The doctor and his nurse girlfriend, who also tested positive, have only mild symptoms, but their cases have led to hundreds of people being tested The first case of a doctor contracting COVID-19 after treating an infected patient was one of two locally transmitted cases and two imported cases reported by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday. The second local case, No. 839, is the doctor’s girlfriend, a nurse who works at the same hospital. Case No. 838, a man in his 30s, is a doctor in a hospital in northern Taiwan that has been treating COVID-19 cases, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. He was in a negative-pressure isolation ward where one of the confirmed patients was staying
DEPARTURE CEREMONY: Guam’s governor hailed the US’ move to end restrictions on contacts with Taiwanese officials, saying it would help the territory build ties with Taipei A humanitarian charter flight, carrying dozens of people who had either been stranded on Guam and Saipan amid border closures or were in need of medical treatment, arrived in Taiwan at 5:25pm yesterday. The flight, operated by China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport with 47 passengers and 13 crew aboard. Five of the passengers had applied to local hospitals for treatment of tumors, heart arrhythmia or other conditions, and were approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, while four more are family members, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the spokesman