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Taiwan reports 1st Omicron death, 5 local cases

Taiwan confirms 1st death from Omicron variant

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(Taiwan News, Yuwen Lin image)

(Taiwan News, Yuwen Lin image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (Feb. 15) announced five local COVID cases and the nation's first Omicron death.

CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced 40 imported cases in addition to the five local infections. Chen also announced one death, raising the COVID death toll to 852.

Local cases

Chen said the local cases include two males and three females ranging in age from their 20s to their 40s. Of these, two were located in New Taipei City and three in Taoyuan City.

Imported cases

The 40 cases include 25 males, 15 females, and one case still under investigation, ranging from under 10 years old to their 70s. Of these, 13 tested positive upon arrival at the airport and 27 tested positive during quarantine.

They arrived between Jan. 5 and Feb. 14 from the U.S. (eight cases), India, Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, the U.K., Spain, Algeria, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Brazil, and Argentina. The country of origin of five cases is still being investigated.

COVID deaths

The single death reported on Tuesday, case No. 18,138, was a Taiwanese woman in her 80s with a history of chronic disease. She was listed as a contact of case No. 17,368 and is tied to the Golden Voice Singers Club cluster infection.

Due to the need for medical treatment, she was placed in a hospital isolation ward on Jan. 10 and tested positive for COVID at the end of her quarantine on Jan. 19. She developed pneumonia in her right lung and her condition continued to deteriorate.

Doctors treated the patient with Remdesivir, steroids, and antibiotics. She was placed in the intensive care unit for three days, but she did not require a ventilator. After three days, her condition stabilized, and she was placed in a standard isolation ward.

In early February, she underwent PCR testing twice, with the Ct value being 33 after both tests. This met the CECC's standard to be released from isolation.

However, that same day, she developed aspiration pneumonia and sepsis. On the morning of Feb. 4, she suddenly lost all vital signs and was declared dead.

Doctors believe that the main cause of death was aspiration pneumonia and cardiovascular disease. She also suffered from diabetes and chronic renal failure, which required dialysis.

She had received one dose of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine in June and the second dose in September. She did not receive a booster shot and died 16 days after being diagnosed with COVID.

Chen explained that according to current domestic regulations, if a person infected with COVID dies within 60 days after diagnosis, and unless there are exceptional circumstances, they are deemed to be a COVID death.

Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, announced that genetic sequencing revealed that the woman had been infected with the Omicron variant. He then confirmed that she is the first person in Taiwan whose death has been attributed to Omicron.

COVID case statistics

Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 6,019,159 COVID tests, with 5,998,996 coming back negative. Of the 19,666 confirmed cases, 4,283 were imported, 15,329 were local, 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet," three were from a cargo pilot cluster, and one was unresolved.

A total of 130 people have been removed as confirmed cases, while 14 cases are still under investigation. To date, 852 individuals have succumbed to the disease.

Of the 839 deaths from local infections, 413 were in New Taipei; 322 in Taipei; 29 in Keelung; 28 in Taoyuan; 15 in Changhua County; 13 in Hsinchu County; five in Taichung; three in Miaoli County; two each in Yilan and Hualien counties; and one each in Hsinchu City, Nantou County, Yunlin County, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, Pingtung County, and Taitung County. The 13 other deaths were imported cases.