Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (center). Photo courtesy of the CECC
Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Taiwan recorded six new imported cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, five of whom had proof of a negative COVID-19 test result issued within three days of their flight, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Three of the cases were from Indonesia, and two of them were women who came to Taiwan on Nov. 17 to work, CECC head and Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a press briefing.
The two women were first tested in Taiwan on Nov. 28, when local health authorities administered COVID-19 tests to all of the 939 Indonesian migrant workers who were in designated quarantine centers at the time, amid rising cases from Indonesia.
Their results from those tests came back negative, but when they were tested again two days later as they were about to be released from quarantine, their results were positive, Chen said.
The CT values of the two women were "in the 30s" for both tests, and were a "weak positive" on Nov. 30. The flip-flop in test results is probably because the two women contracted the disease a while ago and now have a relatively low viral load, the CECC said.
Currently, all Indonesian migrant workers who come to Taiwan, with the exception of fishermen, have to stay in designated quarantine centers upon arrival for 14 days and are tested for COVID-19 before they finish quarantine.
To date, more than 100 Indonesian nationals have tested positive for the disease in Taiwan.
The other case from Indonesia is a man in his 20s who arrived in Taiwan on Nov. 14 and was set to work as a fisherman. He was tested at the request of his employer after completing quarantine and was confirmed to have the disease on Wednesday, Chen said.
The 11 people he traveled with on a company bus have been asked to quarantine, Chen said.
Another new case is of a Taiwanese national in his 30s who works in the United States, Chen said.
After arriving in Taiwan on Nov. 22, he began to have an altered sense of smell and was tested for COVID-19, and his results came back positive on Wednesday, Chen said.
The 15 people who sat near the man on his flight are all in quarantine, Chen added.
The remaining two cases reported on Wednesday are a Cypriot national who traveled to Taiwan from the U.S. and a French national, both of whom are in Taiwan for business, Chen said.
The Cypriot national, who is in his 40s, had a temperature of 38.6 degrees Celsius when he arrived in Taiwan and was tested for COVID-19 at the airport, and he was confirmed with the disease on Wednesday, Chen said.
Two of the man's colleagues who traveled with him are still in quarantine, Chen said, and the CECC will notify the four airline crew members he was in contact with on his flight but have since left Taiwan.
The French national, who is in his 50s, transited through Turkey before arriving in Taiwan on Nov. 20. While in quarantine, he developed a sore throat and was tested for COVID-19, and he was confirmed with the disease on Wednesday, Chen said.
Three people that sat near the man on his flight to Taiwan are still in quarantine, Chen said.
The five foreign nationals who tested positive on Wednesday all had proof of a negative COVID-19 test result issued within three days of their flight to Taiwan, said CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen, which indicates that when they were tested, they had either just contracted the disease or they had already been infected for a while.
In these situations, it is hard to detect the virus, meaning an infected person can still test negative for the disease, Chang said.
Although asking travelers to present test results does not guarantee that everyone is in the clear, it does help prevent many people who have contracted the disease from traveling to Taiwan, Chang said.
These false-negatives are also why the CECC will continue to require all arrivals to Taiwan to quarantine for 14 days, he said.
To date, Taiwan has recorded 685 cases of COVID-19, with 593 classified as imported. Of the total, 570 have recovered, seven have died and 108 are in hospital, CECC data shows.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 63.8 million people in 191 countries and regions, with more than 1.4 million fatalities, according to CECC statistics as of Wednesday.
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