The first locally transmitted Covid-19 case in more than eight months has been reported in Taiwan, ending what was the longest stretch in the world without a home infection and a reminder of the virus’s ability to thwart even the most successful efforts to contain it.
A 30-year-old woman has been confirmed to have caught Covid-19 in Taiwan, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a briefing in Taipei on Tuesday. Although he has seen cases in travelers arriving from outside, the last infection in Taiwan within the community dates back to April 12.
The woman had repeated contact between Dec. 7 and 12 with a New Zealand pilot who caught Covid-19 in the United States before traveling to Taiwan, according to Chen. The government will fine the pilot of Eva Airways Corp. up to NT $ 300,000 ($ 10,000) for failure to communicate details of close contacts and procedures.
Health officials have identified 167 other people the last case came in contact with before his isolation, the Centers for Disease Control said in a statement. The patient is an employee of a subsidiary of How many computer Inc., which said it had tightened virus control measures and asked the employee’s close contacts to self-quarantine at home.
Police traced the latest case after investigating everyone the pilot came into contact with before testing positive. Two other confirmed cases contracted the virus from the pilot while working with him on a flight from the United States to Taiwan on December 15. Shares of Eva Airways fell 6.7%, the most since March, while Taiwan’s benchmark stock index fell 1.4% on Tuesday.
The re-emergence of a local epidemic threatens to derail one of the remarkable achievements of the global fight against the pandemic. Taiwan currently ranks second in BloombergCovid resilience ranking, a measure of the best places to be in the Covid-19 era.
Taiwan has managed to keep its total number of cases at770, with just seven deaths, thanks to a combination of restricting travel to the island at the start of the epidemic and implementing a strict quarantine and contact tracing strategy.
Yet many areas that had initial success in fighting the virus, from Thailand to South Korea, are now facing their worst epidemics as cases increase worldwide with the arrival of the virus. winter.
“The pandemic today outside Taiwan’s borders is worse than ever,” said Raina MacIntyre, professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales. For places like Taiwan that have prevented transmission, “the international border is the weak link that can let in infection.”
The continued spread of the coronavirus around the world has forced the Taiwanese authorities to remain on their guard. Since the last case of domestic transmission in April, more than 300 cases have been reported by people returning from abroad.
The absence of the virus allowed life to continue much as usual in Taiwan, an island about 80 miles off the southeast coast of China. Offices, schools and businesses have remained wide open as the government has avoided putting in place a lockdown, although wearing masks is still encouraged. Taiwan’s successful handling of the epidemic has avoided the economic damage seen elsewhere, placing it among the few countries to predict further growth this year.
The domestic travel industry has seen a kind of boom, with Taiwan’s 24 million people unable to travel overseas for vacations due to the restrictions. Meanwhile, external demand for technology from Taiwan – it is home to Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a key iPhone maker and an array of chipmakers – remains strong as people buy laptops and tablets for work and home study.
According to economists polled by Bloomberg, the economy is likely to grow about 2.3% this year, unlike most other developed economies around the world which are expected to fall into recession.
Highly contagious and showing up in some with little or no symptoms, the virus has reappeared in a number of places where it was thought to have been largely eliminated.
Thailand, the first country to record a case of Covid-19 outside of China, had not reported more than 100 infections per day since early April, until a new outbreak was discovered on December 17. The Southeast Asian country reported 427 new cases on Tuesday, as a cluster in a province outside of Bangkok grew around workers in seafood processing factories.
South Korea has repeatedly prevented the coronavirus from spreading uncontrollably, applying its elite testing and tracing practices that have become a global model for handling the pandemic. Now this country istestedas infections topped 1,000 for five consecutive days through Sunday.
“The main lesson is that if this problem is not addressed globally, human-to-human transmission will still be likely,” said Nicholas Thomas, associate professor of health security at City University of Hong Kong. “The danger is that as cases drop and countries seek to open their borders – either widely or in the form of travel bubbles – places that were previously disease-free will be re-exposed.
–With assistance from Jinshan Hong.
More health and Big Pharma coverage of Fortune:
- The deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is dangerously flawed. Science and data could fix it
- How? ‘Or’ What hackers could undermine successful vaccine deployment
- “There is simply no confidence”: the fight to win vaccine skepticism in the black community
- You can now get custom updates on Zocdoc’s COVID vaccine
- Here is how much Europe will pay for each COVID-19 vaccine