Taiwan confirms 8 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total to 363

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) / Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center

TAIPEI (CNA) — Eight new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease were confirmed in Taiwan on Sunday, bringing the total in the country to 363 since the pandemic began late last year, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The newly confirmed patients, four males and four females, are all Taiwan nationals, who contracted the disease overseas, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC.

Of the new infections, three more members of a 17-person tour group to Austria and the Czech Republic from March 5-14 were confirmed as having contracted the coronavirus, the CECC said.

The latest infected members of the group are a man and woman in their 60s, and a woman in her 40s. All three were asymptomatic and tested as part of contact tracing measures, the CECC said.

A total of nine members of the tour group have tested positive, while eight are negative, the CECC said.

In another asymptomatic case, a man in his 60s, the husband of Taiwan’s 343rd case, was confirmed to be infected after contact tracing, the CECC said.

His wife, the 343rd case, who had no recent overseas travel history was confirmed to be infected after the man returned from work in the United States from Feb. 23 to March 17, the CECC said.

In another cluster case, a woman in her 50s developed a fever and started showing pneumonia symptoms on March 25, to become the third person in a 17-person tour group to be confirmed with the coronavirus after they visited Morocco from March 10-22, the CECC said.

Meanwhile, a woman in her 30s, who visited relatives in the U.S. from March 5-23, was confirmed as infected with the respiratory disease after she developed a fever and lost her sense of smell during home quarantine April 2, the CECC said.

She had been on the same flight to Taiwan on March 23 as the country’s 240th case, who was confirmed as infected on March 26, CECC records showed.

Of the remaining cases, a man in his 40s, who visited relatives in the United Kingdom from Jan. 22 to April 2, tested positive after he developed a sore throat, fever, coughing and excessive phlegm on March 27, the CECC said.

Meanwhile, a man in his 50s, was confirmed as having the coronavirus after he went to the U.S. for work from Feb. 29 to March 16, developing a fever and abnormal taste and smell on March 18, the CECC said.

As of Sunday, 312 of Taiwan’s 363 cases had been classified as imported, while the other 51 are believed to be local infections, the CECC said.

Fifty-four of Taiwan’s COVID-19 patients have been released from quarantine, while five have died. The others are still in hospital quarantine, the CECC said.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected 1,157,764 patients in 181 countries and regions, including 305,820 in the U.S., 124,736 in Spain, 124,632 in Italy, 85,778 in Germany, and 81,669 in China, with 63,846 fatalities to date, according to the CECC.

Chen also said that taxi drivers are now free to refuse to take passengers who who don’t wear a face mask — a measure that already applies to public transport nationwide.

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