Taiwanese student evacuated from Russia tests positive for coronavirus

Nation's latest coronavirus case was among 96 Taiwanese evacuated from Russia

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Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow. (PublicDomainPicture.net)

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow. (PublicDomainPicture.net)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (May 29) announced one new imported case of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the first in a week.

During his daily press conference on Friday afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced there was one new imported case of coronavirus, raising the total number of cases in Taiwan to 442. Case No. 442 is a male student in his 20s who was among a group of 96 Taiwanese who returned from Russia on Tuesday (May 26).

The CECC said the man first traveled to Russia to study in February, but had a sore throat on May 15, lost his sense of smell and began feeling fatigued on May 16. When he arrived in Taiwan on May 26, he took the initiative to notify quarantine officers, who administered a test on him for COVID-19, before dispatching him to a quarantine center.

Although the first test came out negative, due to the telltale symptom of an abnormal olfactory function, a second test was carried out on Thursday (May 28). He was diagnosed with the disease on Friday and placed in a hospital isolation ward.

According to the CECC, all the other 95 evacuees tested negative for the virus and continued to be monitored at a quarantine center. The health department has identified 14 people who came into contact with the man, three of whom are from the same school, and 11 of whom are airline crew members (that did not enter Taiwan).

As the charter Japan Airlines also had 47 Japanese nationals, Taiwanese authorities will notify their Japanese counterparts and further investigate whether other passengers on the plane had become infected.

The CECC announced it had received 169 reports of people with suspected symptoms on Thursday (May 28). Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 71,750 COVID-19 tests, with 70,790 coming back negative.

Taiwan has now extended its streak of no new local infections to 47 days, the equivalent to three complete incubation periods for the virus. The CECC on Tuesday said that if local cases and community infections continue to be prevented until June 7, the equivalent to four incubation periods, many more epidemic prevention regulations can be loosened.

The CECC stated that as long as people continue to cooperate with the real-name registration system and implement personal protective measures, such as hand washing and wearing masks when social distancing is not possible, daily and leisure activities will no longer be limited to a certain number of people.

Out of 442 total confirmed cases, 351 were imported, 55 were local, and 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet." Up until now, only seven patients have succumbed to the disease, while 420 have been released from hospital isolation.

This leaves only 15 patients still undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in Taiwan. Meanwhile, Russia has become a major hot spot for the pandemic with 379,051 confirmed cases and 4,142 deaths.