Taiwan reports 1st locally transmitted COVID-19 case since April

The female patient is a friend of a New Zealand pilot who was confirmed to have been infected earlier this week.

Taiwan on Tuesday reported its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 since April 12, a friend of a New Zealand pilot who was confirmed to have been infected earlier this week, and is testing more than 100 contacts of the woman.

Health authority director Chen Shih-chung told reporters the new locally transmitted case was a woman in her 30s who had close contact with the New Zealand pilot, who was himself confirmed to have been infected on Sunday having flown flights to the United States.

Chen said the New Zealand national had not correctly reported all his contacts and list of places he had been, and may be in breach of Taiwan’s communicable diseases regulation.

Authorities said the pilot, who faces a fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$10,600), visited several establishments including a department store. The government has published a list of places he went in and around Taipei and told people who may have been there to monitor their health. It is testing 167 people who have had direct contact with the new locally transmitted case.

Taiwan tech firm Quanta Storage Inc said the woman was an employee at a subsidiary, and that contacts who had been tested so far had come back negative for the virus.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to effective prevention methods and widespread mask wearing, with a total of 771 cases — mostly imported — and seven deaths. Around 130 people remain in hospital for treatment.

The vast majority of arrivals have to quarantine for two weeks and must test negative.

Pilots, however, currently undergo a less strict three days of self-quarantine after each overseas trip and the new case has already sparked debate about whether those measures should be tightened.

Separately, the government said it would halve the number of flights to Britain, to just one a week, after a highly infectious new coronavirus strain was found in the country.

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