CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan reports 78 new COVID-19 cases, including 6 domestic infections

Taoyuan City has reported six more domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases linked to a Tasty steakhouse branch in the city's Zhongli district amid an increase in infections connected with a recent Taoyuan International Airport outbreak.

The six new infected people include three customers of the steakhouse who were confirmed to have the new coronavirus Saturday morning, and three others who tested positive for the disease late Friday night, the city's mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (???) said on Saturday.

According to Cheng, two of them are classmates of a part-time employee at the steakhouse who was confirmed with the disease on Thursday. They are all students of Taoyuan Municipal Jhongli Commercial High School.

The third one is a family member of the employee, who studies at Chungli's Dong Sing Junior High School.

The three new COVID-19 patients, in their teens, showed their cycle threshold (CT) value ranging between 18 and 30.

Cheng said patrons who visited the steakhouse on and after Jan. 7 have been told to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at nine community testing stations in the city as soon as possible. The mayor added it is estimated that more than 600 customers of the restaurant will have to take the test.

The six new domestic cases are the latest resulting from a cluster that originated from the Taoyuan Airport, where an outbreak occurred among its cleaning staff earlier this month.

The new cases related to the Tasty steakhouse emerged after the restaurant hosted a year-end celebration for a group of employees from Union Bank's Jianxing branch in Zhongli, some of whom contracted COVID-19 from a family member of an airport employee infected in the airport cluster.

As of Saturday morning, a total of 72 people, including airport cleaning personnel, a singing social club's members, bank clerks and restaurant employees, tested positive for COVID-19 after the outbreak happened at the airport.

School closures

Cheng said faculties and students at Jhongli Commercial High School and Dong Sing Junior High School have been required to take tests.

Cheng said so far, a total of 1,104 of the students at the vocational school have taken PCRs with an additional 575 taking rapid tests.

The vocational high school has been closed since Friday.

As for Dong Sing Junior High School and cram schools related to the newly affected student, Cheng said a total of 176 faculty members and students have taken PCR tests and all of the results have come back negative, Cheng said.

Dong Sing Junior High School has been suspended for another 14 days after a one-day suspension on Friday, according to Cheng.

In addition, Cheng said that as the steakhouse employee has one family member who studies at Taoyuan Municipal Xin Yi Elementary School, the school was suspended for one day Friday as a precaution.

He said two students at Xin Yi Elementary School have taken PCR tests and the results were negative.

(Jan. 11: Taoyuan factory closed, semester cut short due to COVID-19 cases )

Restrctictions for high school students

Meanwhile, Cheng said all of the senior and junior high schools in Taoyuan have had to cancel their graduation trips and other field trip, starting Saturday.

Cheng said his city is expected to complete the vaccination of the second Pfizer-BioNTech doses for high school students by Jan. 20 to prevent a further COVID-19 spread.

So far, 81 people at Jhongli Commercial High School have been placed in quarantine at the government's quarantine facilities with 29 in self-health management.

A total of 95 customers of the Tasty steakhouse branch have taken PRC tests and five people who lived with some of them have been placed in home quarantine with an additional 90 people in self-health management, Cheng said.

Due to the Taoyuan Airport cluster, 1,567 people in Taoyuan have undergone home quarantine and the number would top 2,000 soon, Cheng said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel