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Covid-19 emergency in Kaohsiung Port as harbour pilot infected

The battle to control the Covid-19 outbreak in Kaohsiung Port has become more pressing after a harbour pilot added to the cluster in Taiwan’s main container port on 7 February, when many people returned to work after the Chinese New Year holidays.

Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) has ordered that all harbour pilots in Kaohsiung be tested after it turned out that the infected pilot did not follow testing rules.

All port workers are supposed to be tested every three days, but the pilot concerned did not do so in the six days before he tested negative on 31 January and positive on 5 February.

Consequently, 174 people who had come into contact with the infected pilot have to be tested, and these include his six family members.

Demonstrating the gravity of the situation, deputy minister of transport and communications Chih Wen-Jung has stationed himself at Kaohsiung’s Disaster Response Centre to direct outbreak prevention measures and plan Covid-19 screening in the port.

Also stationed at the centre is TIPC chairman Lee Hsien Yi, who directed relevant units to prepare eight screening station equipment sets and staff diversion plans involving screening personnel.

The eight screening stations are to be installed in berths 36, 38 and 55, container yards 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6; previously, screening was carried out only in berths 34 and 118. The port has been zoned into different areas for screening to make it more convenient for anyone to be tested.

Port workers are to take a polymerase chain reaction test and produce a negative result before being allowed to resume work. The tests are to be repeated every three days. Testing requirements apply to anyone else entering the port, such as truck drivers. Entry will be denied to anyone unable to produce a negative test result.

The outbreak in Kaohsiung was traced to a man who contracted Covid-19 in mid-January while repairing ships and subsequently transmitted the disease to his family members. Since then, daily case numbers in the city have been in the double digits. Since the start of 2022, there are now 602 domestic infections and 1,561 imported cases in Taiwan.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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