Taiwanese woman on same flight with COVID-19 patient hospitalized


TAIPEI (CNA) — A member of a Taiwanese tour group traveling to Israel that flew on the same plane as an Israeli citizen infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been hospitalized with a respiratory illness after returning to Taiwan on Monday.

The 11-member tour group flew from Taipei to Istanbul on Feb. 27 and then from Istanbul to Tel Aviv on Turkish Airlines flight TK784 early on the morning of Feb. 28.

The Israeli passenger also took flight TK784 on his return to Israel from Japan, after having presumably recovered from his novel coronavirus infection developed on the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 soon after arriving home, however, and all other people who had been on TK784 were required to leave Israel immediately as a precaution against the further spread of the epidemic, according to a statement issued by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

The Taiwanese tour group was put on a flight back to Istanbul the same night, but then had trouble returning from Turkey to Taiwan on Feb. 29, the statement said.

A day later, Turkish Airlines arranged a special charter to take the tour group back to Taiwan by way of Pakistan, which arrived in Taiwan early Monday evening.

The 11 Taiwanese were the only passengers on the return flight and wore face masks the entire time, the Central Epidemic Command Center said.

After the plane arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:30 p.m., quarantine officials and medical staff boarded the aircraft and conducted checks of everyone on board, according to the CECC.

Once the passengers were screened, the woman was sent to the hospital after showing signs of respiratory disease and was to be tested for the novel coronavirus, the CECC said.

The other 10 passengers showed no symptoms but will be required to undergo 14-day home quarantines, the CECC said.

To date, Taiwan has had 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one person dying from the disease.