TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (Feb. 25) confirmed five imported COVID-19 infections from the Philippines, all of whom tested negative before flying to Taiwan but tested positive after undergoing quarantine in the country.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced four imported infections on Wednesday, raising the total number of cases in the country to 951. The latest imported cases (Cases 948 to 952) are female migrant workers from the Philippines aged in range from their 20s to their 30s.
On Feb. 3 of this year, they took the same flight to Taiwan for work. Each had submitted negative results of a test taken within three days of their flight, were sent directly to a quarantine center upon arrival in Taiwan, and did not report experiencing any symptoms of the virus.
According to Chen, as their quarantine was set to expire, the five took coronavirus tests on Feb. 16, which came back negative. After their quarantine expired, their labor agent arranged for them to take a special epidemic prevention vehicle to a hospital to take a coronavirus test at their own expense on Feb. 23.
All five women were diagnosed with COVID-19 and on Feb. 25 were listed as confirmed cases. A subsequent polymerase chain reaction (PCR test) yielded negative results.
Only Case No. 951 tested positive for both IgM and IgG antibodies. The other four women tested negative for IgM antibodies and positive for IgG antibodies.
All five continue to be asymptomatic and never ventured out during their self-health monitoring period, with the exception of their trip to the hospital to undergo coronavirus testing. The health department has identified a total of 19 contacts in their cases.
As the contacts wore masks when interacting with the cases, they have only been asked to start self-health monitoring.
Chen noted that unlike the four imported cases reported on Wednesday (Feb. 24) which had all tested positive for the virus before flying to Taiwan, the five cases announced on Thursday had tested negative both prior to flying to Taiwan and during their quarantines. Chen said that a routine epidemiological investigation will be carried out for these cases, but in the future, he said an assessment will need to be carried out to determine why there are so many cases that are testing positive after quarantine and what adjustments can be made to catch the cases sooner.
Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 173,472 COVID-19 tests, with 171,619 coming back negative. Out of the 951 officially confirmed cases, 835 were imported, 77 were local, 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet," two were from a cargo pilot cluster, one is an unresolved case, and one (case No. 530) was removed as a confirmed case.
Up until now, nine individuals have succumbed to the disease, while 906 have been released from hospital isolation, leaving 36 patients still undergoing treatment in Taiwan.