TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (March 26) announced 20 additional contacts for a teacher who did not test positive for the coronavirus until four months after returning to Taiwan.
During a press conference on Friday, CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) announced that 20 more contacts have been listed for an instructor who went undiagnosed with COVID-19 for four months, bringing the total to 30.
Case No. 1012 is a Taiwanese man in his 20s and reportedly a cram school teacher who returned to Taiwan in November. He did not test positive for the coronavirus until 122 days later on March 25 as he was preparing to travel overseas.
Initially, the health department had identified 10 contacts in his case, one of whom is living with him and has been told to enter home isolation. When announcing the additional 20 contacts on Friday, Chuang said 19 are relatives and friends who do not live with him and that 10 are people who came in contact with him through his work, all of whom have been asked to start self-health monitoring.
He said that 17 have undergone nucleic acid and antibody tests. Thus far, seven have tested negative for the virus and antibodies, while 10 others are awaiting the results of their tests.
There are three still waiting to be tested, while they do not believe that the remaining 10 contacts need to be tested for the disease.
Chuang stated that the man is a private tutor who works with his students one-on-one. He said the instructor had worn a mask at all times when interacting with students and did not teach large classes.
When asked to comment on an expert's suggestion that the CECC expand its search for contacts to a month earlier, Chuang said that given the fact that even the person living with him has tested negative, he considers the risk of others being infected to be low. He pointed out that the teacher had only taught one-on-one in the classroom and in homes and had always worn a mask.
Nevertheless, because he had had contact with his students for a long period of time, they will all be tested.
Some experts believe that because case No. 1012 is still positive for IgM antibodies, the infection could have been recent, so it is possible that he contracted the disease in Taiwan. When asked to comment on this, Chuang said that everyone reacts differently to diseases and that it is difficult to determine exactly when he contracted the disease.
He emphasized that although they have classified the man as an imported case, they are taking the same approach as a local case. He said the CECC is carrying out an epidemiological investigation and that if any confirmed cases are discovered, he would announce them.