Taiwan reports first locally transmitted COVID-19 case since April

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TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan on Tuesday reported its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 since April 12, a friend of a New Zealand pilot who was confirmed to have been infected earlier this week, and is testing more than 100 contacts of the woman.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention methods and widespread mask wearing, with all new cases for more than the last 250 days being among travellers arriving on the island.

But Taiwan's government has watched nervously as imported cases rise, albeit at a far lower rate than in many other places, and has raised the alert level as the winter begins.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters the new locally-transmitted case was a woman in her 30s who had close contact with the New Zealand pilot, who was himself confirmed to have been infected on Sunday having flown flights to the United States.

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Chen said the New Zealand national had not correctly reported all his contacts and list of places he had been, and may be in breach of Taiwan's communicable diseases law.

The government has published a list of places he went in and around Taipei and told people who may have been there to monitor their health. It is testing 167 people who have had direct contact with the new locally transmitted case.

Taiwan tech firm Quanta Storage Inc said the woman was an employee at a subsidiary, and that contacts who had been tested so far had come back negative for the virus.

Taiwan has reported a total of 771 cases - mostly imported - and seven deaths. Around 130 people remain in hospital for treatment.

Separately, the government said it would halve the number of flights to Britain, to just one a week, after a highly infectious new coronavirus strain was found in the country.

Those arriving in Taiwan from Britain, or who have been in Britain within the last 14 days, will also have to quarantine for 14 days in centralised quarantine facilities.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Lincoln Feast.)

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