Taiwan records 18th coronavirus case, patient asymptomatic

Young man the 4th in his family to contract the mysterious disease

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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan recorded a new case of infection by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Sunday (Feb. 9), with the 18th case being the son of the couple previously confirmed to have contracted the disease earlier this week.

The 18th case, a young man in his 20s, has not shown any symptoms of the viral infection, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at a press conference on Sunday afternoon. However, medical staffers decided to test him as three in his family were already confirmed to have been infected by the SARS-like disease, including his parents (the 14th and 15th cases) and his brother (the 17th), according to Chen.

The family went on a trip to Italy from Jan. 22 - Feb. 1, during which they made two transfers, outbound and inbound, in Hong Kong. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has ruled out the possibility of a viral spread on the island, saying the origin of the family’s infection is most likely to have occurred during a layover in Hong Kong.

The Central Epidemic Command Center is considering the inclusion of all those who have had close contact with confirmed cases in future coronavirus testing, said Chen. Currently, only people who have shown symptoms are tested, while those who have had close contact with suspected and confirmed cases are placed under a 14-day self-isolation at their residence.

Some reports have quoted Chinese physicians as saying that some confirmed cases in China had not tested positive for the new virus until their fourth or fifth examination. Chen said the authorities took notice of such reports but hold that the failure to detect the virus in previous tests is more likely due to a lack of accuracy.

Currently, there are 152 suspected cases in Taiwan, 98 of which have tested negative for the coronavirus in their primary test. The Taiwanese medical authorities conduct two tests to determine whether a person is infected.

Except for the first patient, who was discharged from the hospital after recovering earlier this week, the rest of the 17 confirmed cases are in stable condition, said Chen. Nevertheless, one still has a fever, and another is suffering from pneumonia, he said.