TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Only 17 of the 461 people in Taiwan known to have come in contact with a Belgian man who tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) are still awaiting the results of their virus and antibody tests, and the case is closed for local contacts of a Japanese student and Thai migrant worker who tested positive after leaving the country, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday (Aug. 5).
On Saturday (Aug. 1), news broke that a Belgian engineer who came to Taiwan in early May for work was diagnosed with COVID-19 as he was preparing to leave the country. The source of his infection is still unknown, and the CECC has launched an investigation, attempting to determine whether he can be associated with any local infections and clarify whether he should be considered a local or imported case.
During his weekly press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that 461 people who came in contact with the Belgian man have undergone the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and that 444 have received negative results thus far. This leaves 17 who are still waiting for their results.
The 461 contacts have also been tested for serum antibodies, with 271 receiving negative results. This means 190 are still awaiting the outcome of their tests.
Chen said that because the vast majority of people who came in contact with the man have tested negative, his preliminary assessment is that it is unlikely the man transmitted the disease while in Taiwan. Nevertheless, he reiterated that not all the tests are in yet, and a final assessment of the case has yet to be announced.
Regarding the case of a Thai migrant worker who had been living in Taiwan and tested positive after returning to his country in July, Chen said that after a second test, his Thai counterparts said the results were "inconclusive," while the female friend who had accompanied him tested negative.
In light of the fact that all 253 persons who came in contact with the man in Taiwan had received negative results from both the PCR and antibody tests, and considering the contacts have completed their self-health monitoring periods without incident, Chen declared the case closed.
As for the case of a female Japanese student who tested positive for coronavirus in Japan after staying in Taiwan for four months, Chen said the CECC tested 213 people who had come in contact with her while she was in the country. Out of that group, 212 tested negative on the PCR test, while one person refused to undergo the test.
The individual who declined opted instead for a throat swab, which yielded a negative result. Of the 213 who underwent PCR testing, 212 also submitted to a serum antibody test, with one refusing to take it out of a fear of needles.
All 212 who took the serum antibody test received negative results. Chen said that based on these results, the Japanese woman had posed no danger to the community she had been living in or any of those she had come in contact with.
In addition, the student on July 18 took a test for coronavirus antibodies, which came back negative. Because her initial test was a "weak positive," the subsequent test was negative, and the test results for her Taiwan contacts with also negative, Chen declared the case closed.