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COVID-19 patient in Taiwan had close contact to at least 449 people, visited some tourist spots

One of Taiwan's recently confirmed domestic cases of infection with the COVID-19 coronavirus had contact with over 400 people and visited several tourist areas in northern Taiwan in the past month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Sunday.

The Taiwanese man, in his 50s and Taiwan's 268th confirmed case, had contact with at least 449 people and he visited New Taipei's Jinshan Old Street in the afternoon of Feb. 29 and Wulai Old Street in the afternoon of March 15, said CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) when releasing information on his history of travel as it was unable to know of all the people with whom he had contact.

Even though the patient started showing symptoms of coughing, sore throat, headache, fever, asthma, diarrhea, and pneumonia on Feb. 28, he was not confirmed to have the acute respiratory disease until March 28, according to CECC data.

The patient sought medical treatment multiple times because of his symptoms but was not suspected of being a COVID-19 case until March 26, when he went to hospital suffering from fever and severe breathing difficulties, said CECC official Chou Chih-hao (周志浩).

"It is possible that physicians who saw him before he was sent for testing made their diagnosis having been swayed by the fact that his symptoms were related to his chronic respiratory disease," Chou said.

The case would have been a challenge because he also did not have any recent history of overseas travel, Chou said.

"But we still remind physicians to order test for patients if they have any suspicions," Chou said.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, said that the patient's history of travel was revealed because they have not yet been able to find out all the people with whom he had contact.

"We only reveal this information if it doesn't infringe on personal privacy," Chen said.

As of Sunday, Taiwan had recorded 15 new infections, bringing the total to 298 since the coronavirus emerged in China at the end of last year, according to CECC statistics.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected 645,244 patients in 177 countries and regions, including 119,748 in the U.S., 92,472 in Italy, 81,439 in China, 72,248 in Spain and 48,582 in Germany, with 29,854 fatalities to date, according to the CECC. (By William Yen/CNA)

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