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Taiwan reports first local COVID-19 transmission since April

Taiwan has been hailed a COVID-19 success story, but the island nation is dealing with a handful of new cases. File Photo by Taiwan Presidential Office/EPA-EFE
Taiwan has been hailed a COVID-19 success story, but the island nation is dealing with a handful of new cases. File Photo by Taiwan Presidential Office/EPA-EFE

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Taiwan reported its first local case of the coronavirus in 255 days, ending a streak that made the country a COVID-19 success story amid the raging pandemic.

Taiwan's health authorities said Tuesday a Taiwanese woman who had been in contact with a New Zealand pilot in his 60s tested positive for the virus, the first Taiwanese case outside hotel quarantine since April 12, The Guardian reported.

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The New Zealand man, identified as Case No. 765, is under quarantine. Local authorities have linked the pilot to a handful of new cases, Taipei Times reported Monday.

The pilot flew cargo planes to and from Taiwan without wearing a mask during flight, Taiwanese authorities said.

The New Zealand national flew to the United States on Nov. 29, returning to Taiwan on Dec. 4. He left again Dec. 12, returning to Taiwan on Wednesday.

The man was described as "coughing" without protective gear, and was flying with another pilot, a Taiwanese citizen identified as case No. 760, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, authorities said.

Other people on the flight, including a Japanese man identified as Case No. 766, were on the same flight as the pilots. He tested positive Friday. Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control said the man had diarrhea over the weekend.

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Taiwanese authorities said the pilot from New Zealand broke quarantine regulations from Dec. 8 to 11, when he was required to isolate for three days.

The virus is spreading to only a few people in the island nation with a population less than 24 million people, but the rate of infections has authorities on alert.

On Sunday, an Indonesian man in quarantine tested positive for the virus after landing in Taiwan, after he had already provided test results before departure, according to Taipei Times.

Taiwan has reported 770 cases since the pandemic and four new cases Tuesday.

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