Expert warns COVID-19 could infect as many as 7,000 in Taiwan

Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) and Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙) attend a press conference on COVID-19 on Feb. 17, 2020. (CNA)
Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) and Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙) attend a press conference on COVID-19 on Feb. 17, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — A public health expert warned on Monday that the novel coronavirus tally could reach 7,000 if Taiwan’s epidemic prevention measures remain the same.

Speaking at a press conference, Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙), vice dean of National Taiwan University’s Department of Public Health (台大公共衛生學院), said that 505 people could potentially had been infected by the virus of the 7,515 travelers who arrived in Taiwan from Wuhan before the Chinese city completely locked down, based on the latest reproduction rate.

Of the 505 people, approximately 111 people were not tested on the coronavirus because epidemic prevention measures back then only screened out those with a fever. They could have been asymptomatic and have infected more people, Chen added.

A graphic of how COVID-19 spread in China is shown at a press conference in Taipei on Feb. 17, 2020. (CNA)
A graphic of how COVID-19 spread in China is shown at a press conference in Taipei on Feb. 17, 2020. (CNA)

On top of that, patients unaware of their own infections arriving from other Asian countries where the virus is spreading, including Japan, Thailand and Singapore, could similarly have entered the community.

By the same methods, Chen said that the total number of infections could reach 7,000 should the country continue with the same screening methods.

Chen urged the public not to panic, saying that 7,000 is still an estimate, and that the number could be halved if tighter epidemic prevention measures are put in place.

Taiwan saw its first novel coronavirus death on Sunday, stirring up fear and anxiety that had subsided following a week of no additional cases.

Read More from The China Post