TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Half of Fangshan Township in Pingtung County has entered a "semi-Level 4" lockdown (準四級), and the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has launched five measures in response to a cluster infection of 12 cases, half of whom have been found to have the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19.
Two of Fangshan's four villages, Fenggang and Shanyu, have entered what local officials have called a "semi-Level 4" lockdown amid a local cluster infection involving at least six cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Traditional markets, supermarkets, and food and beverage outlets have all been ordered to shut down for three days.
Over 900 packages of epidemic prevention supplies have been delivered to households in the two villages while residents remain confined to their homes for those three days, according to CTS. The county government has ordered the immediate rapid screening of all residents of the villages.
The county government is planning on beginning the vaccination of all Fenggang and Shanyu residents on Sunday morning (June 27). Chemical warfare troops are also being deployed to the townships to conduct extensive disinfection of community neighborhoods.
Residents of Fangshan Township wait to undergo rapid screening. (CNA photo)
Chain of transmission
According to the CEEC, on June 6, an elderly woman (Taiwan COVID case No. 13,332) and her grandchild (case No. 13,333) returned from Peru on June 6 and went straight to their residence in Fangshan Township. During what should have been her quarantine, the woman interacted with a relative who lives nearby (case No. 14,407) on June 11 and 14.
On June 11, the grandmother and her grandchild started exhibiting symptoms of the virus and on June 15, case No. 14,407 also began to exhibit symptoms. On June 16, a person living with case No. 14,407 — case No. 14,409 — began experiencing symptoms as well.
Despite being symptomatic, case No. 14,409 took a taxi driven by case No. 14,298 on June 18. That same day, the driver started to exhibit signs of the virus, raising questions about the chain of transmission reported by the CECC.
On June 20, a grandchild of case No. 14,407 started having symptoms of the virus.
Also that day, the taxi driver (case 14,298) had tea with two friends, cases No. 14,412 and No. 14,413, who are brothers. On June 21, the driver had a meal with a family member, who became case No. 14,410.
On June 23, the two brothers and the relative of the driver started to experience symptoms. On June 24, three other family members who live with the driver became symptomatic, becoming cases 14,594, 14,595, and 14,596.
On Friday (June 25), CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that the grandmother (case No. 13,332) and grandchild (case No. 13,333) had been infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19. On Saturday (June 26), the CECC announced that out of the 12 confirmed cases in the cluster infection, six have thus far been confirmed to have the Delta variant, including the taxi driver, the grandmother and grandchild, and case Nos. 14,407, 14,408, and 14,409.
CECC chart showing chain of transmission.
1. Contact tracing
The health department has identified 136 contacts of the taxi driver, of whom 99 have entered quarantine and 37 have started self-health monitoring. Of these contacts, 124 have been tested, with nine receiving a positive result from a PCR test and 115 testing negative.
2. Rapid antigen screening
On Thursday (June 24), rapid antigen screening stations were set up in the area where the cases were discovered. As of Friday (June 25), PCR tests on 419 people had come back negative.
3.Strengthening of epidemic control measures and testing in hospitals
Local medical institutions have strengthened notification and infection control measures. Doctors are asked to assist people with suspected symptoms and refer them to testing centers.
4. Announcement of restrictions
Through broadcast systems, the CECC is calling on local residents to abide by epidemic alert regulations, including compulsory mask-wearing at all times outside the home and strict avoidance of crowds. In addition, local supermarkets, restaurants, traditional markets, and food and beverage shops are to be closed for three days.
5. Provision of proper clinical care and treatment of confirmed cases
If patients meet the conditions for treatment with monoclonal antibodies and Remdesivir, the CEEC recommends their immediate use. If patients show signs of serious illness, the CECC calls for their swift and appropriate treatment.
Tougher quarantine rules
On Friday, the CECC announced that effective on Sunday, people who have transited through or arrived from five countries experiencing surges in Delta variant cases will be sent directly to quarantine centers. The five countries listed include Peru, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the U.K., and Israel, the latter two of which are now reporting that 70 percent of their new cases have the Delta variant.
Update 06/27 9:00 p.m.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Sunday (June 27) announced that two other persons associated with the cluster have been verified to be infected with the Delta variant, including one of the brothers the driver had tea with (case No. 14,412) and the family member the driver had a meal with (case No. 14,410). Chen then stated that due to the close relationship with the confirmed cases, the CECC has concluded that the remaining four patients have also been infected with the Delta variant, bringing the total number in the cluster infection to 12.