Taipei, April 29 (CNA) An investigation is underway to determine whether there is a COVID-19 cluster at a hotel at Taoyuan airport, where an employee tested positive on Thursday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC ).
The employee is one of the latest cases linked to China Airlines (CAL), a major carrier in Taiwan. He works as a housekeeping manager at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, where many CAL flight crew members go into quarantine after returning to Taiwan.
Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳 時 中), who heads the CECC, said Thursday that when a guest leaves the hotel, their room is disinfected. Thirty minutes later, the room is cleaned by housekeeping and then checked by a manager.
“Based on this protocol, there is little chance that he (the manager who tested positive on Thursday) was infected through contact with contaminated surfaces,” Chen said.
“We suspect that others (who work at the hotel) were infected first, and they infected the manager,” he said.
As there could be a “chain of infection” within the hotel, with many contaminated areas, Chen said the CECC decided to move around 400 hotel staff and guests to health centers. government quarantines, where they will be tested for COVID-19.
The only exceptions are three hotel workers who developed fever and were sent to hospitals, as well as some pilots from foreign airlines who were staying at the hotel and are due to leave Taiwan on Thursday, Chen said.
Almost all of the hotel’s guests are flight crew, CAL or foreign airlines. They stayed in one of the two hotel buildings, with regular customers in the other building.
The director, a Taiwanese man in his 40s, started showing symptoms of COVID-19 on April 17. He went to a clinic three times to see a doctor from April 19 to 26.
On April 27, he went to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The man was in an unstable condition and is now in an intensive care unit, Chen said.
The CECC is investigating his whereabouts over the past two weeks.
Besides the official, two more CAL-related cases were reported on Thursday. One is the wife of a cargo pilot who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 20, the other a cargo pilot who recently returned from the United States.
Including these cases, the number of CAL-related COVID-19 infections increased to 16 over a 10-day period.
These include eight Taiwanese cargo pilots; three parents of Taiwanese cargo pilots; a hotel employee; two Indonesian cargo pilots, one of whom was confirmed with COVID-19 in Australia; and two parents of one of them.
The CECC has so far not been able to determine how the pilots became infected.
Chen said, however, that six of the infected Taiwanese pilots remained at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and that it is possible that they were infected during their stay.