TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Five passengers on the first flight to arrive in Taiwan from the U.K. since the emergence of a new mutant strain of the Wuhan coronavirus are the focus of concern, as four have symptoms of the virus and one registered a high fever.
On Saturday (Dec. 26), China Airlines Flight CI 082 took off from London at 9:15 local time and arrived at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:36 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 27). The flight was carrying 127 people, including 13 crew members, 90 Taiwanese passengers, one Chinese, 21 British, and two Americans.
Arrival of flight CI 082 in Taiwan. (CNA photo)
Upon arrival, the passengers and crew were screened for symptoms, and those who showed potential signs of COVID-19 were tested on the spot. The rest of the passengers were transported in six buses to three quarantine centers, where they are undergoing two weeks of quarantine.
Of the 114 passengers, one was found to have a fever of 39 degrees Celsius, while four had experienced symptoms of the coronavirus within the past 14 days, reported BCC. The passenger who was experiencing a fever was taken to the hospital by ambulance, while the remaining passengers arrived at the quarantine centers at around 10 p.m.
Passengers disembark from plane. (CNA photo)
A total of 18 specimens have been collected from the passengers and sent to the CDC's Kunyang Laboratory to be tested for the coronavirus. The results should be available by noon on Monday (Dec. 28).
A new strain of the virus, identified as B.1.1.7, has reared its head in the U.K. and been found to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original virus that came out of Wuhan, China, last year. It is spreading at an alarming rate, already having been detected in 15 countries and regions, including Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Passenger with fever boarding ambulance. (CNA photo)
Many countries are therefore imposing new strict travel restrictions. Japan has even announced a ban on foreign travelers starting Monday and lasting through the end of January.
Due to the threat of the new strain, Taiwan has cut the number of weekly flights from the U.K. in half. In the wake of a cluster infection started by a New Zealander pilot, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is now requiring airline crews to undergo seven days of quarantine instead of the previous three.
Crew arriving at airport. (CNA photo)
In the case of Flight CI 082, the CECC is requiring all 13 crew members to undergo a 14-day quarantine. When the passengers complete their quarantine, they will all be required to undergo a coronavirus test and will not be released until they test negative for the virus.