TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Forty construction workers at the Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing a temporary halt to work on the new structure.
Taipei City Councilor Huang Yu-fun (黃郁芬) issued a press release on Tuesday (June 22) stating that construction of the TPAC had been suspended from May 31 to June 18 due to a coronavirus cluster on site. Huang said that in response to the cluster infection incident at the center, the organization quickly administered rapid antigen tests on 400 construction personnel from May 21 to June 11, soon followed by PCR tests.
Thirty construction workers employed by the Taipei City New Construction Office tested positive for the virus, while 10 from the city's Department of Rapid Transit Systems also tested positive. Huang alleged that the Taipei City Government "not only failed to comprehend the situation, but also did not explain it to the outside world." She then called on Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je (柯文哲) to provide a thorough accounting of the situation with the outbreak.
In addition, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) stated at a press conference held at the Taipei City Council on Tuesday afternoon that the first confirmed cases were detected in May, reported CNA. However, he claimed that the contractor delayed disinfecting the site and requested additional manpower to rush through the project, causing the subsequent infections.
Lin Yen-feng (林延鳳) chief executive officer of Chuang's north district office, said that the first confirmed case was diagnosed by the Taipei City Department of Health as early as May 12. However, she alleged that disinfection and rapid screening were not carried out until the end of May.
Lin said that during this "half-month window," nearly 200 workers were employed at the site. According to Lin, the contractor continued to request that the Taipei City Government order a stop to the work, "but the Taipei City Government did nothing."
Tsai Tsung-hsiung (蔡宗雄), head of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, was cited by the news agency as saying that the first case was a cleaning staff member from an outside contractor. Tsai said the case was diagnosed on May 20, and it was reported in accordance with the procedures, with work suspended.
He said that at the same time, PCR tests were administered on all employees, and those who tested positive continued to work. He stated that by the end of May, 40 workers had been diagnosed with the virus, but all have since returned to work.
The TPAC said that the cluster infection was handled by the Taipei City New Construction Office and the Department of Rapid Transit Systems.