TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (Dec. 16) confirmed that eight COVID cases have been tied to an epidemic prevention hotel in northern Taiwan, with four testing positive for the Delta variant and three others suspected to be part of the same cluster infection.
During a press conference on Thursday, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that the diagnosis of Taiwan's coronavirus case No. 16,851, a Taiwanese man who had been vaccinated with two doses of Sinovac and returned from China on Nov. 20, had touched off an epidemiological investigation that has led to the discovery that seven other cases stayed in the same hotel in Taoyuan. Thus far, six cases have been found on the sixth floor, while one case each was found on the fifth and eighth floors.
On the eighth floor was case No. 16,862, a Taiwanese man in his 50s who returned from Indonesia on Dec. 1 and was diagnosed with COVID on Dec. 14. On the fifth floor was case No. 16,872, a Chinese woman in her 20s who arrived from Cambodia on Nov. 21 and was diagnosed on Dec. 16.
Epidemic prevention hotel in Taoyuan being evacuated on Thursday. (CNA photo)
There were six confirmed cases on the sixth floor, all of whom arrived in Taiwan between Nov. 20 and Dec. 3. Nos. 16,851, 16,841, 16,821 arrived from China, while No. 16,856 arrived from Hong Kong, No. 16,865 from Australia, and No. 16,768 from Vietnam.
Chen said that the S gene sequences of all four cases in the cluster are matches so far, including case Nos. 16,851, 16,768, 16,841, and 16,856. All four were staying on the sixth floor.
Of these four infections, Chen said that case No. 16,768 was infected the earliest. The center believes that case No. 16,768 brought the virus from Vietnam and transmitted it to case Nos. 16,852, 16,841, and 16,856 while they were in quarantine, and for that reason they will probably be reclassified as local cases, said Chen.
Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that the center has confirmed the four have contracted the Delta variant of COVID, but not Delta Plus. Chen said that because the center considers the outbreak a cluster, the hotel has been closed, and all occupants have been evacuated.
Two more cases on the sixth floor, cases 16,821 and 16,865, are still awaiting the results of genetic sequencing.
Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) pointed out 37 employees of the hotel and 321 travelers who have checked in since Nov. 22 have been listed as contacts. All 37 workers have tested negative for the virus, while three travelers have tested positive for Covid, 292 have tested negative, and 26 are still awaiting their results.
Chen said that because case No. 16,851 had been in the community for a few days, 16 contacts have been listed in his case. Those who have been tested for the virus have all received negative results thus far.