Taiwan records five new imported COVID-19 cases

CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Five people who returned to Taiwan on Sunday have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country since the start of the pandemic to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.

Four of the patients arrived in Taiwan Sunday on the same flight from the Philippines, while the fifth one returned from Hong Kong, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press briefing in Taipei.

With the confirmation of the four new cases among people returning from the Philippines, the number of imported cases from that country so far this month has climbed to 21, according to the CECC.

Meanwhile, the patient who returned from Hong Kong is a man in his 30s, who had been working there since January and developed mild symptoms of COVID-19 earlier in July but did not seek medical attention, Chuang said.

On arrival in Taiwan on Sunday, he reported his symptoms to airport quarantine officers, as required, and was immediately tested and quarantined, Chuang said.

In two of the cases imported from the Philippines, both patients said they had been tested for COVID-19 before their return to Taiwan, as they had been experiencing symptoms of the disease, according to Chuang.

One of them said he did not receive the results before his departure, while the other — a man in his 30s, who had traveled the Philippines in January for work purposes — reported that he had tested negative at the time, Chuang said.

The other two were a couple in their 70s, who were tested on arrival in Taiwan, and the woman was hospitalized, while her husband was placed in quarantine at a hotel, as he was asymptomatic, Chuang said.

“Of the five imported cases, four people proactively told airport health authorities about their symptoms,” Chuang said, noting that the fifth patient was asymptomatic.

He said the CECC has identified 10 passengers who sat close to the four infected people on the flight from the Philippines and has instructed them to remain in home isolation for 14 days, while the five cabin crew members have been asked to practice self-health management.

The CECC has also contacted 12 people who sat near the infected man on the flight from Hong Kong and has also instructed them to self-isolate, Chuang said.

The five new imported cases of COVID-19 Tuesday brought the total number in Taiwan to 467, of which 376 have been classified as imported, 55 as locally acquired, and 36 as a cluster infection on board a naval ship, an outbreak that was confirmed to have originated in Taiwan.

On Monday, the CECC confirmed four new imported cases from Lesotho, South Africa, and the United States.

Taiwan has not recorded any locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since April 12, according to CECC data.

To date, 440 COVID-19 patients in Taiwan have recovered, and seven have died, whole most of the others are in hospital, the CECC said.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected 16,456,481 people in 187 countries and regions, with a total of 653,834 fatalities, according to CECC statistics as of Tuesday.