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Taiwan confirms 7 new coronavirus cases, including 1 imported or local

Belgian engineer has spent two months in Taiwan, unclear if domestic or imported case

CECC chief Chen Shih-chung 

CECC chief Chen Shih-chung  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Seven new cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) were confirmed Saturday (Aug. 1), with six listed as imported but the origin of one case still to be determined, throwing doubt on Taiwan's record of 110 consecutive days without local transmission.

The new cases, most imported from Guatemala and the Philippines, brought the total number of infections in Taiwan to 474, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at a news conference.

However, a Belgian man who tested positive for the coronavirus had already spent two months in Taiwan, making it unclear where he had been infected and whether he should be counted as an imported or domestic case. In the latter case, he would be the first domestic infection since April 12.

Media reports Friday evening (July 31) suggested a European engineer working on a wind power project in central Taiwan had shown symptoms of the coronavirus and was tested ahead of his return home. He turned out to be Case No. 469, a Belgian who had been in contact with 89 people at work and on trips between his workplace and head office in the Taipei area.

A total of 82 of the contacts are isolating at home, and 17 have already been tested, said Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

Saturday's new cases not only featured a Belgian but also other foreign citizens, including one from Guatemala plus a worker and sailor from the Philippines, who was quarantined on board his ship. One of the new Taiwanese cases had returned from the Philippines, according to the CECC.

Taiwan's death toll remains at seven, with 382 imported cases, 55 local cases, and 36 originating from the Taiwan Navy’s "Goodwill Fleet."

The number of travelers entering the country rose during the month of July, the Liberty Times reported, accounting for 20 new imported cases.