TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Sunday (Feb. 21) confirmed that a Filipino man had attended a meeting in a building in Tainan shortly before testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
On Saturday (Feb. 20), Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that case No. 943 is a Filipino in his 20s who came to Taiwan for work on Feb. 3. He had submitted the negative results of a coronavirus test taken within three days of his flight, was sent directly to a quarantine center upon arrival in Taiwan, and has not reported any symptoms since arriving.
Chen said that the man's quarantine ended on Feb. 18, when he began his self-health monitoring phase. At the request of his company, he took a coronavirus test at his own expense that same day.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday. The health department has identified 26 contacts in his case.
Of the contacts, 15 have been told to undergo home isolation, as they had interacted with him for a prolonged period. The remaining 11 contacts have been asked to start self-health monitoring, as they had interacted with the man less and worn masks throughout.
A notice appeared in a commercial and residential building in Tainan's Yongkang District Saturday stating that a Philippine national confirmed with COVID-19 had visited the 20th floor. According to the notice, the foreign national had attended a training session in an office on that floor at 10 a.m. Friday morning (Feb. 19).
During the training, the health department informed the building management that the man had tested positive for COVID-19, and the workshop was immediately canceled. Building officials immediately carried out a thorough disinfection of the property.
Notice posted in building. (photo from member of public)
Case No. 943 reportedly used elevator No. 3 to attend his training course and also used the men's restroom on the same level. According to the notice, the man wore a mask at all times.
After seeing the notice, residents of the building became very concerned that they might have been exposed to the virus. Some questioned why they had not been directly notified by health department officials and told to undergo home quarantine or self-health monitoring.
When asked about the incident on Sunday, Chen stated that the fall and winter epidemic prevention scheme bars people from going out for meals or meetings while self-health monitoring. Since case No. 943 had attended the meeting during his self-health monitoring period, Chen said it appears he had violated this regulation.
Chen said that the local health department will need to investigate the matter and determine whether a violation was committed and what penalty should be imposed. He emphasized that all participants in the training wore masks, and for that reason he deems the risk of the virus spreading to the community to be low.
Hsu I-lin (許以霖), head of Tainan's Public Health Bureau, was cited by Newtalk as saying on Sunday that the man's employer violated Article 36 of the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) by having the employee attend the training session during his self-health monitoring period. Later that day, the health bureau announced the man's employer was fined NT$15,000 (U.S. 537) in accordance with Article 70 of that law, reported CNA.