Wuhan coronavirus could infect 7,000 in Taiwan: expert

Taiwan could see 7,000 Wuhan coronavirus infections says public health expert

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2019-nCoV virus. (NIAID-RML via AP)

2019-nCoV virus. (NIAID-RML via AP)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan could ultimately see 7,000 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a public health expert who spoke at a press conference on Monday (Feb. 17).

Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙), vice dean of National Taiwan University’s Department of Public Health on Monday said that before Wuhan was locked down, approximately 7,500 Chinese from the infested city visited Taiwan, reported Rti. Of that number, Chen estimates that 505 could have already been infected with the disease.

Chen said that before Wuhan was sealed off, more than 5 million people left the city for the Lunar New Year holiday. Of those people pouring out of the city at the time, 7,515 visited Taiwan, 505 of whom could have been carrying COVID-19.

He said that of those 505, 111 were not tested because at the time people who did not have a fever were not tested for the illness. Chen said that in the three weeks since Wuhan has been locked down, those who potentially were infected in Taiwan have mainly been placed in quarantine.

However, Chen could not guarantee that those Chinese tourists from Wuhan had not transmitted the disease to Taiwanese residents. He said that if they were, the containment of the outbreak in Taiwan will rely heavily on isolating patients early on.

Chen warned that based on the level of exposure brought on by visitors to Taiwan, including tourists from first, second, and third-level epidemic areas in Asia, the resulting number of people infected in Taiwan could reach 7,000, according to the report. He said that if the current level of screening based only on fevers is used, up to 7,000 cases may be reported.

He then tried to reassure the public by saying if the epidemic prevention cordon is tightened now in Taiwan, the rate of infections could be lowered significantly. He said it will be key for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to take measures to quickly isolate symptomatic patients and bolster screening efforts to rapidly identify asymptomatic patients.