TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (Jan. 6) announced that a new Omicron cluster infection has formed at a Taipei quarantine hotel.
CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that case No. 17,127, which was listed as an imported case on Dec. 31 has been changed to a local case, after an investigation determined the woman had been infected by case No. 17,073. Both cases were infected with the Omicron variant.
Chen said the pair stayed on the eighth floor of the same epidemic prevention hotel in Taipei. Case No. 17,073 was in room 805, while case No. 17,127 was in room 803.
Case No. 17,073 is a Taiwanese woman in her 50s who returned from the U.S. on Dec. 22, and before returning home, was tested on Dec. 28 and diagnosed with COVID on Dec. 29. Case No. 17.127 is a Taiwanese woman in her 30s who arrived from Switzerland on Dec. 17, experienced symptoms on Dec. 28, and tested positive for the virus on Dec. 31.
Case No. 17,073 had a Ct value of 18, while No. 17,127 registered a Ct value of 15, indicating relatively new infections. Both women had opted for the "Seven plus Seven" Lunar New Year quarantine plan.
Under the program, those who have received the second dose of a COVID vaccine at least 14 days before arrival are able to reduce their hotel or quarantine center stay to seven days during the holiday. The remaining seven days can be spent at their place of residence.
The program is in effect from Dec. 14 to Feb. 14. The fact that a cluster infection has broken out halfway through the program has led to concerns the CECC may cut the program short.
According to Chen, genetic sequencing revealed there was only one site difference between the two cases. Based on the sequencing results and the epidemiological investigation, the CECC believes that case 17,073 transmitted the virus to case No. 17,127
Taipei City Government Department of Information and Tourism said the hotel is in Zhongzheng District and has been evacuated. Other occupants on the eighth floor have been relocated and tested.
Technicians are inspecting the air conditioning system and the hotel will need to make improvements in accordance with regulations, while a team of experts will determine when it is safe to reopen the facility.