Sunday, June 20, 2021

COVID-19: Taiwan to quarantine all pilots amid outbreak

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tiamin rice

Taiwan will quarantine all pilots for its largest carrier China Airlines Ltd for 14 days as it tries to stop an outbreak of COVID-19 among its crew.

This will effectively ground the airline, the Health Minister said on Monday.

Taiwan has generally kept the pandemic well under control due to early prevention with only sporadic domestic cases.

However, since last month, it has been dealing with an outbreak linked to China Airlines pilots and an airport hotel where many of them stayed.

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There have been 35 confirmed infections so far in the outbreak.

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Health Minister, Chen Shih-Chung, told reporters that the only way to break what they believe is a chain of transmission at the carrier is to quarantine all China Airlines pilots currently in Taiwan and send into quarantine those who return to Taiwan.

“This will have a big impact on China Airlines, on its passenger and freighter flights as well as for the crew too.

“But for the safety of the whole community we cannot but make this decision,’’ he said.

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The move effectively amounted to a 14-day grounding for the airline and the pilots will only be allowed out of quarantine once they have tested negative, Chen added.

China Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though it has said repeatedly it is cooperating with the government to end the infections and that it has stepped up vaccinating its staff, including pilots.

Taiwan’s health authorities believed some of the pilots got infected first overseas, then spread the infection upon returning to Taiwan.

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They also thought that others could have been infected by pilots from other airlines staying at the same hotel.

The government has been alarmed by the cases as some of the pilots went to bars and restaurants in northern Taiwan before their infections were confirmed, running the risk of community transmission.

Although no infections have been linked to that yet.

The airport hotel has since been evacuated and is undergoing a deep clean.

Reuters/NAN

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