Taiwan confirms 40th COVID-19 coronavirus case

Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung, center, speaks at a press conference on March 1, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A woman who was evacuated from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has been diagnosed to become Taiwan’s 40th confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus case, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday.

The newest patient is a woman in her 70s who lives in northern Taiwan, the CECC said.

The woman boarded the cruise ship Jan. 20 and was originally diagnosed with coronavirus Feb. 15 after the ship was quarantined off Yokohama since Feb.4, even though she did not show any respiratory issues, the CECC said.

She was hospitalized in Japan Feb. 16 and then returned to Taiwan Feb. 26 after two tests showed she was negative for the virus, the CECC said.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), CECC chief, said the woman wore a mask the whole time on the flight and was separated from other passengers with nobody sitting within two rows in front of or behind her.

After disembarking from her flight she was taken by ambulance to be quarantined at a hospital, with the latest test result showing her to be positive for the coronavirus, Chen said.

CECC expert Chang Shang-chun (張上淳) said the woman originally showed negative on her first test, then an unconfirmed result on her second test, which was followed by a positive result on her third test.

One of the reasons for the negative tests to later turn out to be positive may have been that toward the end of a particular treatment, the virus level may have dropped low, affecting the tests detecting the virus, Chang said.

This is why some international reports have shown that people who are believed to be been cured and have been discharged from hospital later turn out to be positive, he said.

Meanwhile, three more patients in Taiwan who were infected with coronavirus were discharged from hospital after recovering from the disease, the CECC said Sunday.

The discharged patients were a female tourist from China, the wife of a Taiwanese businessman from Wuhan — the epicenter of the virus — and an imported case from Macau.

This brought the total number of people who have been discharged after being hospitalized for treatment in Taiwan to 12, the CECC said.

As of Sunday, there had been 2,192 people suspected of being infected, including 40 confirmed cases, with one death, according to Taiwan Centers for Disease Control statistics. A total of 2,059 people had been cleared of infection, with the remainder awaiting test results while under quarantine.