Taiwan reports zero new coronavirus cases, outbreak could end in June

CECC head says Taiwan's epidemic could end in June as country marks 15th day without local cases

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Chen Shih-chung. 

Chen Shih-chung.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (April 27) announced there were no new cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), with Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) saying if this trend continues for the next two weeks, the local epidemic could come to an end by June.

During his daily press conference on Monday afternoon, Chen announced no new cases of the virus in the country. This marks the 15th day that Taiwan has not reported a local case, while infections from the "Goodwill Fleet" (敦睦, Dunmu) appear to have slowed.

Chen said that of the 31 sailors in the "Goodwill Fleet" cluster, 1,916 contacts have been traced by the health department. Of those persons, 585 are undergoing home isolation, while 1,331 have implemented self-health management.

Thus far, 262 of these contacts have undergone testing for the virus and 254 have tested negative. Since the outbreak of the pandemic began, Taiwan has carried out 60,459 tests for COVID-19 and 58,531 have come back negative.

Out of Taiwan's 429 total cases reported, 343 were imported, 55 were local, and 31 came from the Goodwill Fleet. Up to now, only six have succumbed to the disease, while 290 have been released from hospital isolation.

During a meeting held in the Legislative Yuan on Monday morning, Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) asked Chen if there were no new coronavirus cases over the next two weeks whether the domestic epidemic could be said to have come to an end in Taiwan by June, reported CNA. Chen responded that at this point in time, such an outcome was possible, but he added that even if the domestic epidemic slowed down, the global pandemic was unlikely to end so soon.

Tseng then asked if there was a possibility that even if the epidemic was brought under control in June, the virus would return to Taiwan in autumn or winter. Chen responded by saying that it would depend on scientific verification of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) warning that the presence of antibodies may not ensure protection against a second infection of the virus.

Chen pointed out that if scientific studies found the antibodies unable to have a certain effect against the virus, it would have an impact on vaccine research and development. If the vaccine was not effective, then it would be inevitable that the epidemic would happen again in the autumn and winter, warned Chen.

As for the Goodwill Fleet cluster, the center will continue to trace the infected sailors' public movements after disembarking from their ships, and it will publish them on the internet. Chen reminded the public that if they had been to the same places at the same time as the confirmed cases, they should undergo self-health management for the next 14 days and wear a mask when going out.

Those who feel unwell are advised to call the toll-free disease prevention hotline at 1922. The center also recommends that when seeking medical attention, patients should proactively inform doctors of their travel history and all persons they have recently come into contact with.