COVID-19: a new cluster suspected at the Taipei hotel

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PERSONNEL TESTED:
The suspected group concerns two imported cases who stayed in adjacent rooms during quarantine and were carriers of the Delta strain of the coronavirus

  • By Lee I-chia / Journalist

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new cluster of suspected infections at a quarantine hotel in Taipei, saying classes at a preschool associated with the case would be suspended for two days to prevent infection.

Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳 時 中), who heads the center, said the suspected group involved two imported cases that were quarantined in adjacent hotel rooms last month.

The first case – No. 17,181 – is a Taiwanese man in his 30s who returned from China and quarantined at the hotel from December 12 to 26.

Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center

He tested positive – with a cycle cutoff (Ct) value of 18.1 – in a hospital on Saturday, after developing a headache and testing positive with a rapid home test kit, Chen said.

He tested positive while practicing self-health management at home. While he remained with his parents, wife and three children during the period, his family members and close contact were placed in home isolation and tested for COVID-19, he added.

All of their test results were negative, the CECC said.

The man also took one of his children to preschool while infected, so the facility was ordered to suspend operations today and Tuesday while testing and contact tracing are carried out, said Chen.

The second case – # 16,941 – is a Taiwanese who returned from the United States and quarantined at the hotel December 19-21 before testing positive for COVID-19 on December 22, with a Ct value of 23.8, Chen said, adding that the man stayed in room 3007, while the other man stayed in room 3006.

Preliminary genome sequencing results showed both cases were infected with the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, he said, but added that full results had not been obtained.

As both cases are considered a possible cluster infection, hotel guests who stayed on the same floor were moved to other locations, while those who stayed on the same floor at the same time as the two cases would be tested, Chen said, adding that hotel staff have been tested for COVID-19.

The center also updated its findings on a previous suspected cluster infection at a quarantine hotel in Taipei, involving three cases infected with the Omicron variant, reported last week.

CECC Specialist Advisory Committee Head Chang Shan-chwen (張 上 淳) said that although there are two to four site differences in the genome sequences of virus samples collected from the three cases, the center does not exclude that they come from the same group of infection.

While the center considers it more likely that one of the cases, No.17,085, infected the other two, Case No.17,085 said their symptoms started on Wednesday, but one of the two other cases had left the hotel on December 24. Chang said.

Further investigation is needed to determine if No.17,085 was contagious five days before symptoms appeared, or had mild symptoms that went unnoticed, he said.

As the results of the hotel’s environmental surface tests were negative, air conditioning specialists suggested that the hotel improve its air conditioning system, he said.

While the sources of infection for the three cases are still unclear, the center urges quarantine hotels to be careful, Chang said.

The CECC yesterday reported 20 imported cases of COVID-19: 11 travelers from the United States, two from the United Kingdom and one from Australia, Canada, China, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam .

Chen said that as of Saturday, the country’s first dose vaccination rate had reached 80 percent and the full vaccination rate was 69.1 percent.

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