《TAIPEI TIMES》 Home isolation rules to be tightened
Arriving passengers line up at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Jan. 22. Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
‘ONE PERSON PER UNIT’: People undergoing home isolation cannot stay in a housing unit in which non-isolated people live, unless they have special approval
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
Starting tomorrow, people under home isolation would be required to follow the “one person per housing unit” rule if in private housing, or stay at a quarantine hotel or centralized quarantine facility, the Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC） said yesterday.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the center, said the rules require people under home quarantine to be quarantined with one person per housing unit, or at a quarantine hotel or centralized quarantine facility.
“Starting on March 1, individuals under home isolation will also be subject to the ‘one person per housing unit’ rule,” he said. “We consider the risk of infection to be relatively high among people living in the same household.”
People undergoing home isolation cannot stay in a housing unit in which non-isolated people live, unless they obtain special approval, the CECC said.
If all members of a household have been put under home isolation and were last exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case on the same day, they would be allowed to isolate in the same housing unit, but in separate rooms with independent bathrooms, it said.
Minors, people aged 65 or older, people with disabilities or catastrophic illness, who need to be accompanied by another adult during home isolation, would be allowed to isolate in a housing unit with one caregiver, Chen said, adding that the caregiver would receive a home isolation notice and would be obligated to follow isolation rules.
Centers for Disease Control （CDC） Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞）, who is deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said gene sequencing on virus samples taken from 14 people among the 21 confirmed cases in a cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital has found that they were all infected with novel variant SARS-CoV-2, CAL.20C, which was first identified in South California.
The variant is possibly more contagious, has a higher contagion rate in households and might cause more serious illness, he said, citing data from the cluster as well as a study into the variant by University of California, San Francisco researchers.
Three of the 21 cases in the cluster, or 14 percent, were admitted to an intensive care unit （ICU）, Lo said.
The university’s study showed that about 13 percent of patients with the variant were admitted to an ICU, compared with about 3 percent of patients infected with other variants, he added.
The contagion rate in households in the cluster was about 22 percent, lower than the 35 percent suggested in the study, he said, but added that it was still higher than the 4.6 percent contagion rate in households suggested in a study on the first 100 confirmed cases in Taiwan.
The CECC’s comprehensive review on the cluster, which caused up to 4,888 people to be placed under isolation, has five suggested improvements, including a modified standard for identifying close contacts of confirmed cases, Lo said.
In related news, the CECC yesterday reported three new imported COVID-19 cases.
One of them is a British student who had tested positive in the UK and provided two negative test results before arriving in Taiwan, Chen said.
However, she tested positive upon ending centralized quarantine on Thursday, he said.
Another case is an Indonesian sailor who arrived in Taiwan on Feb. 8 after departing Vietnam on Feb. 3, Chen said.
He tested positive in a paid test on Thursday after having completed quarantine at a hotel, he added.
The other case is a Philippine migrant worker who tested positive in a paid test on Friday while practicing self-health management, Chen said.