TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the number of cases associated with a hospital cluster in Taoyuan expands and the source of the two latest infections remains a mystery, city officials estimate 13,000 people will need to be placed under quarantine.
On Sunday, the CECC announced that a man in his 60s (case no. 889) who had received treatment unrelated to the virus at Taoyuan General Hospital and his wife, also in her 60s, who had been caring for him both contracted COVID-19. This brings the number of cases associated with the hospital cluster to 15.
On Monday, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said all patients discharged from the hospital between Jan. 6-19 and people living with them, caregivers of hospitalized patients and people living with them, and people exposed to case no. 889 will be identified and told to begin 14 days of home isolation immediately. Presently, 2,991 people linked to the hospital cluster are already undergoing quarantine, and it is estimated that more than 5,000 will be among the contacts listed by Chen.
However, officials have only been able to contact 578 patients who were discharged during that period. They have not been able to contact anyone living with the discharged patients or their caregivers, and the Taoyuan Police Department is inviting members of the public to assist in finding them.
As the number of people returning to their hometowns for the upcoming Lunar New Year increases, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) estimates the number of people who need to self-isolate in the city will soon exceed 13,000, reported UDN. According to estimates by the Taoyuan City Government, 8,000 people are undergoing quarantine in the city, and the addition of the 5,000 that need to isolate at home will soon bring the total number of quarantined individuals in Taoyuan to 13,000.
An estimated 9,000 people are currently undergoing home quarantine in Taipei. As fears of a major outbreak in northern Taiwan increase, some have suggested a full ban on overseas arrivals, but Chen insists that such a ban is not necessary at this stage.
As for the latest cases, 195 medical workers from the hospital who may have come in contact with the latest two cases have undergone polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Most of them worked in the surgery department, and their tests have all come back negative, according to Chen.