The Covid-19 infections linked to the Novotel hotel at Taoyuan International Airport, currently in use to quarantine travelers, were at the center of Taiwan’s epidemic press conference today.

Despite low risk for the virus to spread in communities, containing the cluster at its source is key to preventing this contingency, said Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shi-chung on a Taipei radio show in the morning.

One of the eight new Covid-19 cases announced today by the Central Epidemic Control Center (CECC) was sourced to a Novotel hotel worker. Since Thursday, a total of 16 domestic cases have been reported to have links to the quarantine hotel, according to the Central News Agency.

As of today, the government has tested more than 700 people who have had contact with the 24 patients with Covid-19 linked to the hotel, which belongs to the French multinational hospitality group Accor.

Minister Chen, who heads the CECC, said it remains unclear if all the patients in the cluster contracted the coronavirus domestically.

Taiwan’s government has been put on alert since a worker of the hotel tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, April 29. The CECC, in addition to contact tracing, took action by testing all the staff and guests at the location on the same day.

Three more hotel workers were confirmed on Friday to have caught the virus domestically. The CECC has identified and revealed a number of locations they visited before testing positive on Friday and Saturday, most in the city of Taoyuan but also the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area in Chiayi.

On Saturday, a family member of a pilot, who stayed at the hotel and tested positive for Covid-19 last week, was confirmed to be a new domestic case of the virus. Another person who lives with this patient was found to have the virus on the following day, when three family members of a hotel worker who tested positive on Friday were diagnosed with the virus as well.

Of the three, the CECC revealed today the case no. 1136 has traveled across Taipei and Yonghe District of New Taipei by bus and subway. The locations that other patients visited before testing positive might not be made public because they are unlikely sites of further infections, Chen said during the conference.

Last Wednesday, two family members of different pilots of China Airlines who tested positive for antibodies were confirmed to have contracted Covid-19. At least six other pilots, who stayed at the hotel, were also diagnosed with the coronavirus last week, but the government has yet to identify the source of infection in these cases.

In response to recent cases linked to pilots, the CECC expanded vaccine eligibility to the family members of aircraft crew and other frontline workers, who have been exposed to higher risk of contracting Covid-19. State-funded vaccination will be open to the group starting May 3.

The government will have to keep close tabs on the cluster until mid May, if no new infections are found to have a connection to the Novotel hotel, Chen said. If infections are to be found in the cluster in the coming days, the period for observation will be lengthened.

To date, Taiwan has reported 1,145 cases of Covid-19, including 94 locally-transmitted cases and 12 deaths. 75 patients with the virus are currently in hospitalization.

READ NEXT: Taiwan Has Raised Health Insurance Premiums. What Reforms Are Next?

TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more story updates in your news feed, please be sure to follow our Facebook.