TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (April 13) confirmed five new cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to 393.
During his daily press conference on Monday afternoon, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) confirmed five new cases of coronavirus, all of which were imported from abroad. The latest cases include three women and two men between the ages of 50 and 60. All but one were passengers aboard the ill-fated Coral Princess cruise ship, while the fifth is a relative of case No. 384.
According to the CECC, cases 389 through 392 are part of a cluster infection along with three relatives and a friend. The seven on Feb. 15 began a trip that took them to the U.S., Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile, where they boarded the Coral Princess on March 5.
The cruise ship was originally scheduled to end its journey in Argentina on March 19, but due to the border closure there and in other countries as fear of the disease grew, the ship was forced to remain at sea for many days. While still at sea, 12 passengers and 10 crew members were confirmed with the disease, and three died.
The CECC pointed out that a total of 1,898 people was originally aboard the ship, including 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members. On April 7, the CECC received notice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that were seven Taiwanese nationals onboard.
Chen wearing a pink mask. (YouTube, CDC screenshot)
The seven eventually boarded a charter plane arranged by the cruise ship company that first took them to the UK, where they transferred to a Taiwanese jet that returned them home. In order to prevent transmission of the disease, the CECC coordinated with the Civil Aeronautics Administration, National Immigration Agency, Centers for Disease Control, and the airline to implement relevant quarantine measures for the seven passengers.
The measures included wearing masks throughout the flight, seating passengers further apart, carrying out quarantine inspections regardless of symptoms, and sending them to a centralized quarantine center for 14 days. When the cruise passengers arrived in Taiwan on April 7, five declared that they had symptoms of the virus, and four were diagnosed and placed in hospital isolation.
Three others tested negative for COVID-19 and were placed in a quarantine center. After being tested for a second time while still under quarantine, however, all three tested positive.
The only new case today who did not take part in the Coral Princess cruise, case No. 393, is a female in her 60s who had been living in the U.S. for an extended period. On March 29, she developed a cough and phlegm, before experiencing diarrhea on April 1.
When she arrived in Taiwan on April 11, she was immediately dispatched from the airport to a hospital for medical treatment. She tested positive for the disease on April 13.
Her relative, case No. 384, had returned to Taiwan on April 10 and was diagnosed on April 11. Both case No. 393 and case No. 384 had come in contact with a confirmed Wuhan coronavirus case while in the U.S.
During a lighter moment at the beginning of the press conference, Chen wore a pink mask in response to a report of school children mocking a boy who wore a pink mask by saying that color is not important and that "everyone can wear them." Chen said that "pink is not bad" and quipped that during his youth he enjoyed watching the "Pink Panther."