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EVA Air, preschool COVID-19 clusters nearly at an end: CECC

2021-09-19
Focus Taiwan
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung talks about the two clusters of COVID-19 infections during Saturday's press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung talks about the two clusters of COVID-19 infections during Saturday's press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has determined that a small cluster of COVID-19 infections involving EVA Airways pilots is under control, while another cluster linked to a preschool has likely also run its course.

There have been no new cases linked to the EVA Air cluster since two pilots were reported as new COVID-19 patients on Sept. 3 and the son of one of them was reported to have the disease the following day, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Saturday.

A total of 519 people, who were listed as having contact with them, were quarantined for 14 days and tested negative for the disease, he said.

Therefore, Chen said it is "case closed" for the small cluster of three infections, all of which involved the COVID-19 Delta variant.

As to a larger cluster of infections of the Delta variant related to a preschool and apartment complex in New Taipei, Chen said it will be clear on Sunday if the spread of the disease from this group has run its course.

A total of 33 cases were reported and linked to a preschool in New Taipei, and subsequently a residential building where one of the patients live, between Sept. 5 and Sept. 16.

Those infected included 10 children and two staff members from the preschool, as well as relatives, neighbors, and people who came into contact with them.

Among the 3,600 people listed as having come in contact with the infected individuals, 3,472 tested negative for COVID-19, while 2,638 are currently in quarantine, Chen said.

Once the test results of the last batch of 100 contacts all come back negative Sunday, Chen said the CECC will deem the cluster as being completely under control.

Chen also noted that the two clusters are not linked because the patients contracted genetically different Delta variants.

Meanwhile, initial genome sequencing results showed the most recent patient, an airplane cabin cleaner working at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, was not infected with the same Delta variant of the virus identified in either clusters, he said.

The CECC is comparing the results with other patients of the Delta variant, mostly found in people traveling to Taiwan after July 2, when genome sequencing of the virus became mandatory for imported cases.

According to CECC official Lo Yi-chun, health authorities have identified planes the patient worked on, which carried one or two imported cases from the Middle East to Taiwan in September, as the virus found in them are similar genetically.

While the final results are expected as early as Monday, Lo said the source of infection in the case of the cabin cleaner is likely to be one of those imported cases.

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