TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Although the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) denied that a residential service worker is a super spreader, she is a key link in a number of chains of transmission of the Omicron variant to a number of cluster infections in northern Taiwan.
On Jan. 9, a Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport worker who manages luggage carts, case No. 17,473, was diagnosed with COVID. The CECC believes he contracted the virus handling luggage carts and then passed it on to his wife, case No. 17,472, who works as a residential service worker.
That same day, case 17,471, the uncle of a child under the age of five, case No. 17,416, tested positive for COVID. This ultimately formed a family cluster infection of five cases.
On Jan. 10, the home care attendant's child, case No. 17,504, a boy under the age of 10 was diagnosed with the disease. He in turn spread the virus to two classmates in his after-school children's care center.
The woman is believed to have then transmitted the virus to her close friend (case No. 17,507), who works in an electronics factory. On Jan. 10, case No. 17,507 and four coworkers tested positive for the virus, forcing the facility to be closed for cleaning and disinfection and 280 workplace contacts were placed in a quarantine center for isolation.
On Jan. 12, the CECC announced that three clerks at the Union Bank branch in Zhongli had tested positive for COVID. The center believes that the home care worker had transmitted the virus to tellers at the bank when she opened a new account on Jan. 6.
The centers believe that infections were increased when bank employees held a year-end banquet at a branch of the Tasty steakhouse in Taoyuan City on Jan. 7. As of Friday morning (Jan. 14), the Union Bank cluster infection had grown to 17 cases, including a teenager who was working part-time at the restaurant when the banker's banquet was held.
Although she began to experience symptoms of COVID six days ago, she continued to go to work, potentially spreading the virus to many others. The health department has listed 40 students and five family members as contacts, all of whom have been placed in a quarantine center for isolation, while her school, Taoyuan Municipal Jhongli Commercial High School, has halted classes for two weeks.
During a press conference on Thursday (Jan 13), a member of the media asked Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, if the home care attendant is a super spreader. Lo responded that to be considered a super spreader, a person must have directly transmitted the virus to 10 people.
However, Lo said that because she only directly transmitted COVID to about four or five people, the center has not designated her to be a super spreader, although many have been indirectly infected.
(Taiwan News, Yuwen Lin image)