TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An elderly British man was pronounced dead on Wednesday (Feb. 3), after contracting the new mutant COVID-19 strain from the U.K. prior to arriving in Taiwan.
On Thursday (Feb. 4), health minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that a British man in his 70s died the previous day, marking the ninth death Taiwan has recorded from the Wuhan coronavirus since the outbreak began. He is the first foreigner to die from the coronavirus in Taiwan, and he is the first case in Taiwan to succumb to the variant of the coronavirus first detected in the U.K. — B.1.1.7.
On Dec. 31, the man was identified as case No. 799, a British male in his 70s who came to Taiwan to visit relatives on Dec. 18. On Dec. 26, he began to experience a dry cough and wheezing after the day's activities.
On Dec. 29, he reported fatigue and a sore throat, prompting the health department to arrange for him to be tested for the coronavirus. He was diagnosed on Dec. 31.
Since he had been in quarantine for two days before the onset of the illness and had not come in contact with any friends or relatives while in Taiwan, the health department did not list any contacts in his case.
On Jan. 6, health minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that specimens taken from case 799 were a match for B.1.1.7. The man's condition began to deteriorate over the New Year, and (CECC) advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) on Jan. 6 said the man was critically ill and had been placed on a ventilator.
Chang said a number of factors may have led to the man's critical illness, including his advanced age, cardiovascular problems, and relative obesity. He added the man was the first person infected with the new mutant strain that had to be placed on a ventilator in Taiwan.
As his condition continued to deteriorate, he was placed under extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. However, he continued to suffer a number of serious complications, including organ failure, pulmonary hemorrhage, fever, and bacterial and fungal infections.
Although he was treated with antibiotics, his condition took a turn for the worse, and he was declared dead on Wednesday. The man was cremated that same evening and Chen said the government will offer any assistance it can to the man's family members in managing funeral arrangements and other related matters.