A cluster of 23 infections at a preschool in New Taipei City have been confirmed as being from the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven new local cases, all residents of New Taipei City, had been confirmed, while no new COVID-19 deaths had been reported.
Of the local infections, six are linked to the preschool cluster, and the infection source of the other case was unclear and being investigated, Chen said.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
The first case in the preschool cluster was reported on Sunday, a preschool teacher, while several preschool students and their family members tested positive in the following days, he said.
The six new cases include the mother of an infected student, two grandmothers of two other infected students, and three people who live in the same building as a family with three confirmed cases — a student and their parents, Chen said.
The father of the infected family is an Egyptian who arrived from Egypt on Aug. 4 and tested negative at the airport, as well as upon ending his quarantine on Aug. 16.
However, he tested positive after his child was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, Chen said, adding that the case has been temporarily listed as an imported case.
The three cases who live in the same building include an anesthetist at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), and two people who tested positive when one was about to be hospitalized and the other was going to accompany the patient, he said.
CECC specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said that NTUH immediately conducted COVID-19 testing on 92 close contacts of the anesthetist, as well as expanded testing on more than 1,000 people at the hospital, and the test results all came back negative.
The anesthetist had received a second dose of the Moderna vaccine in early July, so the case is considered a vaccine breakthrough infection, Chang said.
As six cases have been reported in the building, the New Taipei City Government has cleared it and placed its more than 400 residents in isolation at centralized quarantine facilities, he added.
Chen said that 1,013 close contacts of the preschool cluster have been placed in home isolation and 49 are practicing self-health management.
Among them, 358 have tested negative, 22 have tested positive and 633 are waiting for their results, he said.
Genome sequencing on virus samples collected from 10 cases in the preschool cluster showed that they are all infected with the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, he added.
However, while the genome sequences of the 10 cases are the same, they differ from the sequence taken from last week’s aircrew cases, also infected with the Delta variant, which indicates a separate infection source, Chen said.
While tests on close contacts of the aircrew cluster and expanded testing of other aircrew have all come back negative, the preschool cluster seems to be more complicated, as it involves several schools and a residential building, he said.
The center is not considering raising the COVID-19 alert level at this time, but it does not object to local governments imposing tighter restrictions than those of the nationwide level 2 alert, he added.
While the center wants to find the infection source of the preschool cluster, the most important task is to prevent the virus from spreading further, so contact tracing is ongoing to identify everyone who is at risk of infection, Chen said.
“We urge everyone who is experiencing a fever, respiratory symptoms, loss of smell or taste, or diarrhea, to avoid going to school or work, and to seek medical attention or get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible,” he said.
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