The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday confirmed two more cases linked to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, bringing the total number of cases in the cluster to 14.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the two new local infections, an airport worker and a disease prevention taxi driver, are both in their 50s.
Case No. 17,414 is an airport security guard, who had throat discomfort, mild nasal congestion and a runny nose on Wednesday, but she was only tested in expanded testing on Friday, after another security guard — case No. 17,371 — tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, Chen said, adding that her test result came back positive yesterday.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
The other local case — No. 17,415 — is a disease prevention taxi driver, who tested negative on Tuesday, but he was tested again on Friday and the result came back positive yesterday, Chen said.
Fourteen confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with Taoyuan airport have been reported since Monday: seven airport janitors, two airport security guards, two disease prevention taxi drivers, two members of the Golden Voice Social Club, which an infected janitor visited, and a family member of the two social club members.
Chen said data collected from contact tracing and testing suggest “there is more than one chain of infections ... at the airport,” so the CECC’s on-site airport command center has expanded the testing to include all frontline workers at the airport.
Excluding the janitors, security guards and disease prevention taxi drivers who were tested in the past week, about 9,000 airport frontline workers were to undergo polymerase chain reaction testing starting yesterday, he said, adding that if any of them test positive, the testing would be expanded to include non-frontline airport workers.
Recent inspections have found that most airport workers follow the infection control operational procedures, but there are some minor flaws in their actions that could increase the risk of virus transmission, so a team has been sent to the airport to help them improve their disease prevention measures, Chen said.
The team consists of 24 nurses, who can supervise workers regarding safety practices such as preventing unnecessary contact, changing protective gear, hand washing and disinfection measures, he said.
Meanwhile, genome sequencing found that virus samples from two previous cases — No. 17,238 and No. 17,239, two janitors — were identical to a virus sample from an imported case who arrived on Dec. 24 last year, Chen said.
The imported case had used a bathroom at the baggage claim area where case No. 17,238 worked, and the two janitors took the same shuttle bus to and from work, along with three other infected janitors, he said.
However, another janitor — case No. 17,307 — was the first among them to experience symptoms, and she also worked at the baggage claim area, but her virus sample was still undergoing genome sequencing, so the possible link between the cases remained unclear.
Forty-two imported cases were reported by the CECC yesterday, including 23 from the US, four from Vietnam, two from France, one each from 11 further countries and two that are under investigation.
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