CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 cluster confirmed at Taipei quarantine hotel

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday confirmed that two COVID-19 cases reported at a quarantine hotel in Taipei comprised a cluster infection.

Genome sequencing found that the two cases were linked, and it was determined that at least one of them had been domestically transmitted, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (???) said at a CECC press briefing.

The two patients are Taiwanese nationals, who returned to Taiwan from China and the United States on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, respectively, the CECC said.

Their quarantine period at a hotel in Taipei's Zhongshan District overlapped for three days, during which they were in adjacent rooms, according to the CECC.

They tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 22 and Jan. 2, respectively, CECC data shows.

Based on its preliminary investigation, the CECC has identified two potential ways that the disease could have been transmitted, CECC official Lo Yi-chun (???) said Wednesday.

Transmission of the disease may have occurred when the two patients briefly opened their room doors at the same time to collect their meals, Lo said, citing one such recollection by one of the patients.

The other possibility is that the virus was carried in the air circulating between the two rooms via gaps in the ceiling, Lo said.

Meanwhile, the hotel remains open, except for the floor where the two patients were housed, but no new guests are allowed until the hotel passes a CECC review, he said, adding that even then the two rooms where the infections occurred will remain off limits.

The two cases comprise the fourth cluster infection confirmed at a quarantine hotel in Taiwan since early December, according to the CECC.

The largest cluster, comprising seven cases of the Delta variant, was at a hotel in Taoyuan, which was subsequently closed and is scheduled to reopen later this week, except for the two floors on which the infected patients had stayed, Chen said.

Two other clusters were identified at hotels in Taipei, involving two Delta and three Omicron variant infections, respectively, he said.

As the Delta cluster was determined to have resulted from human error rather than structural issues, the hotel has been allowed to reopen after employee retraining, Taipei Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan (???) said Monday.

The hotel where the Omicron cluster was found has been dropped from the city government's list of designated quarantine facilities, but it will be allowed to book regular guests, once it passes the relevant reviews, he said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel