Maybe It Was Too Good To Last: Taiwan has its first mass outbreak


[ Addendum below as of January 26 ]

It’s funny how reckless airline pilots didn’t cause a mass outbreak of COVID-19, but doctors and nurses, and families visiting hospitals did, despite wearing PPE and knowing proper procedures for prevention.

Five thousand people in Taoyuan are now in home quarantine, and all private academies will be closed for anywhere from two weeks to a month.  Fortunately, the one month long winter vacation has just started (January 21), so public schools were already closed.  But language schools and academies for science, math, arts and other things will also close.  It’s going to be a big inconvenience to parents; many kids are sent to winter camp classes during this time.

The number of carriers from the hospital was less than ten (staff and patient family members), but the number of contacts multiplies quickly.  Fortunately the government’s connection of the health care and cell phones helped them track down all people potentially exposed.  The US has Rachel Levine, and Taiwan has Audrey Tang.

As said before, Taiwan News is fourth rate “journalism”.  But they match the press releases from the government’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), so they’re credible here.

5,000 people to be isolated amid new hospital cluster cases in northern Taiwan

Following two new coronavirus cases associated with a hospital cluster in northern Taiwan on Sunday (Jan. 24), the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced that more than 5,000 more people must enter home isolation to prevent further spread of the disease.

[. . .]

The latest case had visited floor 12A, which up until Sunday CECC officials had considered a relatively low-risk “green zone.” However, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that in light of the new infections, the floor’s status has been changed to “red zone,” as has the entire hospital.

This means that all wards will be treated as high-risk. Chen said all patients discharged from the hospital between Jan. 6-19, along with people living with them and related contacts, will be identified and told to enter 14-day home isolation immediately, followed by seven days of self-health monitoring and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The governement’s releases came late in the day, so there’s no word on whether Taipei city and metro area will be affected.  I’ll likely find out tomorrow.  As of yet, I haven’t received any emergency messages on my phone.  Taoyuan is an hour away from Taipei by car, but there are three train lines and but routes out of the city as well.

Schools shut down in Taiwan’s Taoyuan amid hospital cluster outbreak

Following two new coronavirus cases associated with a hospital cluster in northern Taiwan on Sunday (Jan. 24), Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) on Monday (Jan. 25) announced that all activities at schools will be suspended immediately, including the privately run Cornell Bilingual School.

In response to the expanding scope of the outbreak in the city, Cheng announced on Monday that all school winter classes, volunteer services, clubs, winter camps, and all other activities using school spaces will be halted immediately. Students who had been taking classes will be asked to study at home and do their coursework online.

The winter vacation for Taoyuan’s school system started on Jan. 21, but a number of extracurricular activities had been slated on school properties over the break. However, Cheng on Monday announced that effective immediately, all supplementary classes, volunteer services, clubs, camps, and any other activities taking place in school facilities will be suspended, in order to reduce risks associated with large gatherings of people.

The government’s releases today include a list of locations where the people visited. Normally when cases were singular and they could control the situation, they didn’t tell where people were to avoid panic and prevent harm to businesses. But here the number and types of places could lead to a mass spread, and they want to keep people away from them (e.g. restaurant, supermarket). The PX Market chain has nothing to do with US military stores.

Hospital cluster cases visited PX Mart, Danan Market in northern Taiwan

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (Jan. 25) provided a list of the locations where two new cases from a hospital coronavirus cluster recently visited while contagious.

On Sunday, the CECC announced that a man in his 60s (case No. 889) who had received treatment unrelated to the virus at Taoyuan General Hospital from Jan. 8-11 had contracted COVID-19. In addition, a female family member (case No. 890) who had been caring for him also tested positive for the virus that same day, bringing the total number of cases associated with the hospital cluster infection to 15.

After receiving notification of the family cluster infection, the health department immediately launched an epidemiological investigation. A preliminary investigation has revealed a history of activities in public places during the contagious period for cases 889 and 890.

 


Addendum:

The number of of people in quarantine has multiplied.  But better safe than sorry.

13,000 in Taiwan’s Taoyuan to be quarantined amid hospital cluster

5,000 to enter home isolation, 8,000 to undergo quarantine in Taoyuan as concern grows about major outbreak

As the number of cases associated with a hospital cluster in Taoyuan expands and the source of the two latest infections remains a mystery, city officials estimate 13,000 people will need to be placed under quarantine.

On Sunday, the CECC announced that a man in his 60s (case no. 889) who had received treatment unrelated to the virus at Taoyuan General Hospital and his wife, also in her 60s, who had been caring for him both contracted COVID-19. This brings the number of cases associated with the hospital cluster to 15.

On Monday, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said all patients discharged from the hospital between Jan. 6-19 and people living with them, caregivers of hospitalized patients and people living with them, and people exposed to case no. 889 will be identified and told to begin 14 days of home isolation immediately. Presently, 2,991 people linked to the hospital cluster are already undergoing quarantine, and it is estimated that more than 5,000 will be among the contacts listed by Chen.

[. . .]

An estimated 9,000 people are currently undergoing home quarantine in Taipei. As fears of a major outbreak in northern Taiwan increase, some have suggested a full ban on overseas arrivals, but Chen insists that such a ban is not necessary at this stage.

In a Taiwan foreigner’s facebook group, one individual (a Russian) posted this ludicrous comment about the latest news item:

Without due legal process, government decides to arrest 5000 people, and the population is okay with that

“Arrested”?  They’re staying in small hotels, have TV and wifi and decent food.  They’re not in jail cells.

My response: If you don’t like how they’re handling it, go home.  Seven dead and less than 1000 cases speaks volumes.

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