TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An EVA Air cargo pilot from New Zealand has been fined by the Taoyuan City Department of Public Health for not being truthful about his recent contact and travel history, after it was revealed that he infected a woman with the Wuhan coronavirus, breaking Taiwan's streak of no new local cases that had lasted for eight months.
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, health minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced Taiwan's first confirmed local case of COVID-19 since April 12. Chen said the local infection, Case No. 771, is a woman in her 30s who came in close contact with Case No. 765, the New Zealander pilot who had been associated with a cluster infection among pilots.
That same day, Taoyuan's health department announced that the pilot will be fined NT$300,000 (US$10,600) for violating the "Communicable Disease Control Act" (傳染病防治法), reported CNA. The health department said that the pilot must pay the fine within seven days after receiving notice of it.
If he does not pay the fine, the health department will notify the Taoyuan Branch of the Administrative Enforcement Agency (AEA). AEA will then request that the pilot pay the fine.
If the Kiwi man still refuses to pay, it will be directly deducted from his salary and deposits. This will be followed by a deduction from any real estate property owned.
At this point, authorities will resort to restricting his exit from the country if the payment is still not received.
During questioning with the CECC, the New Zealander claimed that he could not recall where he had gone and "did not have the habit of recording where he had traveled and when." He also failed to mention that he had come in contact with Case No. 771 over the course of six days.
After a police investigation was carried out on Dec. 21, they found that the New Zealander had been in close contact with Case No. 771 from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12. She was listed as a contact, tested that same day, and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Dec. 22.
The health department stated that the pilot failed to inform it of his contact and activity history in detail during the epidemic investigation, which hindered the timing of epidemic prevention measures and increased the risk of infection to the community. As a consequence, the health department has decided to impose a penalty of NT$300,000 in accordance with the "Communicable Disease Control Act."