For 253 days, Taiwan avoided any local transmission of COVID-19. But that impressive streak came to an end Tuesday with news that a woman in her 30s had tested positive after close contact with a pilot who’d flown to the US. The pilot, a New Zealand man in his 60s, flew a Taiwanese airline cargo plane to the US on Nov. 29, and returned to Taiwan on Dec. 4. The woman, a friend, is believed to have had contact with him between Dec. 8-12, when he is also known to have visited locations around Taipei, per the Guardian. Health authorities say he was coughing during another flight to the US on Dec. 12. His two co-pilots later tested positive. The New Zealander was tested in Taiwan on Friday and confirmed as a quarantined case on Sunday.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung confirmed the woman, representing the first local case outside hotel quarantine since April 12, had close contact with the pilot, per Reuters. Health authorities, who've helped prevent the spread of the virus to just 770 people in Taiwan since the start of the pandemic, are already testing more than 100 contacts of the woman. Her employer has not uncovered related cases so far, per Reuters. Meanwhile, the pilot faces a fine of more than $11,000 for violating Taiwan's communicable diseases law, per the Guardian. Chen said he hadn’t correctly reported all of his contacts and locations. As a pilot, the New Zealander was excluded from a 14-day quarantine upon entering Taiwan, though he was to isolate for three days. (Read more Taiwan stories.)