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Delta cluster grows from tea-sipping session with taxi driver in south Taiwan

17th case from Delta cluster also infected from drinking tea with taxi driver

Chemical warfare troops disinfecting road in Pingtung County's Fangshan Township. (Military News Agency photo)

Chemical warfare troops disinfecting road in Pingtung County's Fangshan Township. (Military News Agency photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's only known cluster infection involving the Delta strain of COVID-19 on Tuesday (June 6) rose to 17 cases with another friend of a taxi driver contracting the virus after joining him for tea.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that a man in his 30s is the latest case in a cluster infection involving the Delta variant in Taiwan's Pingtung County. This brings the total number of cases associated with the cluster to 17, with DNA tests on samples from 13 patients found to be a match for the Delta version of the virus thus far.

The man was placed in quarantine on June 26 for having come in contact with the taxi driver at the center of the cluster and tested positive for COVID-19 on July 5, with a Ct value of 30.7; however, was negative for antibodies, indicating he was infected recently. The CECC believes that case No. 15,184 likely contracted the disease when he drank tea with the taxi driver and two other men.

Despite having symptoms of the virus for two days, a taxi driver in Pingtung County's Fangshan on June 20 had tea with a group of friends. In addition to the newest case, two brothers who are fruit farmers, case Nos. 14,412 and 14,413 are also believed to have contracted the virus during the tea-sipping session.

On June 26, the man also happened to ride in the same epidemic prevention bus as case Nos. 15,163 and 14,905. The former also was a passenger in the taxi driver's car on June 21, while the latter ate noodles with the taxi driver that same day.

Case No. 15,184 has been placed in a hospital isolation ward to undergo treatment. The cluster infection is believed to have started when an elderly woman returned to Pingtung's Fangshan Township from Peru and interacted with a neighboring relative during quarantine.