Taiwan has demanded that some 5,000 people be quarantined as it seeks to stop the potential spread of Covid-19 following a cluster of cases linked to a hospital.
The authorities have already located almost 3,000 people who may have had contact with the infected patients in Taoyuan, the island’s health minister Chen Shih-chung said on Monday.
“Of the 2,991 who have been located, they will need to quarantine at home or in special facilities for two weeks followed by seven days of self-health management,” Chen said, adding the authorities will continue to locate and notify the rest of the potential contacts.
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Chen asked those who had visited the Taoyuan General Hospital in northern Taiwan between January 6 and January 19 – including patients who had been discharged from the hospital, those accompanying patients to the hospital and those who lived with the patients – to report to the authorities for quarantine.
Local media reports have said that some potential contacts live outside Taoyuan, including residents of the nearby cities of Taipei and New Taipei.
Both cities have imposed strict controls, banning visitors from hospitals and tightening rules on mask wearing and safe distancing in public places and stores.
Taiwan has so far succeeded in containing the spread of the disease thanks to its early response and strict border controls, but the latest cluster has seen 15 confirmed cases so far.
Those infected in the outbreak, which started on January 12, include two hospital patients and three of their relatives, as well as medical staff, their family members and a carer.
Thirteen of the infections have been traced to a doctor, but the Central Epidemic Command Centre said it had yet to discover how one patient, who was being treated for another condition, and one of his relatives had become infected.
Last week the command centre ordered the evacuation of patients and staff from the hospital, which has treated 114 Covid-19 patients, for disinfection.
Many local governments have cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations as a result of the outbreak. The Taiwanese authorities have also cancelled the Lantern Festival that was scheduled to be held in Hsinchu, a city just over 40km (25 miles) from Taoyuan, between February 26 and March 7.
Before the latest outbreak, Taiwan had been able to stage various public events, allowing crowds to attend concerts and sports matches.
In late October, it even staged a huge LGBT parade in Taipei, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
As of Monday, Taiwan had recorded 889 infections, including 71 local infections and seven deaths. Some 95 patients are still being treated in hospital for the disease.
This article Coronavirus: Taiwan to quarantine thousands in effort to curb latest outbreak first appeared on South China Morning Post