TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The elderly owner of the kindergarten at the center of a cluster infection involving the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been diagnosed with the virus.
On Wednesday evening, the New Taipei City Department of Health announced that another person linked to the cluster infection associated with a kindergarten in Banqiao District had received a positive PCR test result after experiencing symptoms of the virus. During a press conference on Thursday (Sept. 16), Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that case No. 16,221 is a woman in her 70s who owns the kindergarten, bringing the total number of infections in that cluster to 33.
Due to the outbreak at the kindergarten, the health department on Sept. 5 arranged for her to enter a quarantine center. Coronavirus tests conducted during and at the end of her quarantine both came back negative.
On Sept. 12, she was released from quarantine. However, on Sept. 14, she began to experience a sore throat and was tested for the virus again.
She tested positive on Sept. 16. Two people have been listed as contacts and have entered quarantine while the health center continues to conduct contact tracing.
When asked why the woman had not undergone a full 14-day quarantine, Chen said that she had been classified as a second-degree contact. After two tests for the virus had come back negative, she was released from quarantine and told to begin self-health monitoring at home.
He stressed that there was no record of her venturing out over the past two days and that family members who live with her have entered home isolation. Tests administered on her relatives have come back negative.
Noting that the woman's case was illustrative of the infectious nature of the Delta variant, Chen said, "It's not like the virus can't find you just because you're sitting there and not moving." Chen said this demonstrates that when dealing with the Delta variant, more attention needs to be paid to second-degree contacts.
As for whether the quarantine period for second-degree contacts should be extended, Chen said that the center will discuss the matter with local health departments to determine if future adjustments are necessary.
Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that case No. 16,221 had a Ct value of 16, and genomic sequencing is still underway. Thus far, all cases that have been sequenced in the kindergarten cluster have been found to have the Delta variant.
Lo said that even when the genomic sequences have not yet been released, cases in this cluster are assumed to be infected with the Delta strain and are dealt with accordingly.
Known connections between the 33 cases in kindergarten cluster. (Taiwan News, Yuwen Lin image)
The cycle threshold (Ct) value refers to the number of cycles the fluorescence of the PCR test is detectable. Generally, the higher the number, the longer the virus has gone undetected, while the lower the number, the more recent the infection likely occurred.