TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four air cargo pilots working for China Airlines have tested positive for COVID-19 within one week, prompting the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to expand testing of the carrier's air cargo crews during their quarantine and self-health monitoring periods.
On Tuesday (April 20), two China Airlines cargo pilots were diagnosed with COVID-19, with two more diagnosed Friday (April 23). Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press conference on Friday that as a result of the infections, testing will be expanded to 1,270 front cabin crew members from China Airlines, and he urged rear cabin crew members and their families to promptly report any symptoms.
Chen said the two new cases reported on Friday are not believed to have come in contact with the pilots diagnosed on Tuesday. He said he hopes to complete the expanded testing of crews as soon as possible to clarify the situation.
The new measures require crews who are off duty but in quarantine to undergo a coronavirus test within three days after their holiday ends. Aircrew members who are on duty are being asked to continue to observe a three-day quarantine after entry and take a coronavirus test after the end of their quarantines.
The CECC relaxed quarantine regulations for aircrews on April 15. Long-haul flights entering Level 3 pandemic areas are required to undergo three days of quarantine and a nucleic acid test afterward.
After the test, they must undergo another 11 days of self-health monitoring. Those who serve on short-haul flights to Level 3 areas but do not enter their borders must self-health monitor for 14 days.
Chen said that he hopes to clarify the route of infection in the cargo plane cases before discussing whether to tighten the rules for flight crews.
Among Friday's new cases, case No. 1,091 is the son of an Indonesian cargo pilot who works for China Airlines and was diagnosed in Australia. Case No. 1,091 is an Indonesian pilot who is a colleague of the pilot confirmed with the virus in Australia.
Chen said an epidemiological investigation is still underway and that the source of case No. 1,091's infection has yet to be determined. Meanwhile, the pilot diagnosed in Australia is not being included among Taiwan's confirmed cases.