Taiwan confirms 18 more cases of COVID-19, total at 153 (update)

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung

TAIPEI (CNA) — Eighteen new cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported in Taiwan on Saturday, bringing the total number in the country to 153 since the outbreak began, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

They were all imported cases, with the ages of those infected ranging between 20 and 70 years old, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, said at the daily CECC press briefing on Saturday.

Among the 18, 12 were women and six were men, and they all returned to Taiwan from overseas between March 8 and March 19, Chen said. The majority of them started developing symptoms of the disease after returning home.

The countries they visited included Turkey, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt, the Czech Republic, South Africa, and Indonesia, Chen said.

According to CECC data, a Taiwanese couple identified as cases No. 143 and No. 144 reside most of the time in the Czech Republic and had been to several countries before their return to Taiwan on March 19.

They are also relatives of the recently confirmed case No. 77 in Taiwan, a woman who visited the couple in the Central European country before they all traveled together to the United States from March 7 to 14.

Of the three, the wife (case 144) developed muscle pains and a throat ache on March 6 before their departure for the U.S., while the other two (case 77 and 143) started feeling ill a week later on March 14.

The couple came back to Taiwan on March 19, and were confirmed as having COVID-19 on Saturday, the CECC said, noting that their relative (case 77) returned a few days earlier on March 16 and tested positive for the virus the next day.

The 18 new imported cases consisted of individual travelers, tour group members, and students studying in France and the U.K., such as cases No. 138, 139, 141, 152 and 153, CECC data showed.

Seventeen of the confirmed cases were Taiwanese nationals, and one was an Indonesian woman in her 20s who returned home to attend a wedding March 14-15.

After returning to Taiwan, she began developing a cough and headache on March 17 and went to see a doctor at a local hospital.

She was confirmed COVID-19 positive on Saturday.

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