During a daily news conference at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taiwan last Saturday (2 May), specialist advisory panel convener, Chang Shan-chwen, said that wearing face mask could greatly reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
As he used an illustration to further support his point, Mr Chang addressed the issue where the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan did not spread to other people.
He noted that the risk of infection is high if both infected and uninfected people are not wearing face masks. However, if the healthy person wears a mask, the risk of contracting COVID-19 will be greatly reduced by about 50 to 80 per cent. He also explained that the reduced risk only focuses on transmission via respiratory droplets.
On the other hand, Mr Chang asserted that if only the infected person is wearing a mask, the risk of transmitting the coronavirus will reduce by about 80 to 90 per cent, not forgetting the risk of leakage from the sides of the mask.
He added that when both infected and health people wear masks, the risk of transmission will reduce drastically to about one to two per cent.
Besides reporting on the risk of infection of COVID-19, Mr Chang discussed the incident where eight cases were reported at a hospital back in February.
Apparently, the infected person – also known as Taiwan’s 34th confirmed case – experienced difficulty in breathing. Therefore, she failed to put on a mask sometimes and might have contaminated the environment.
Last week, Taiwan managed to report zero cases for six consecutive days, and three new cases were then reported on Saturday, according to Taipei Times.
Mr Chang clarified that the surge of suspected cases in mid-March was due to the return of travellers from various countries. Upon arriving in Taiwan, these travellers reported symptoms.
“We issued travel warnings for many countries in mid-March and travellers returning from those countries with symptoms were reported upon arrival in Taiwan, so the numbers of daily reported suspected cases significantly increased from mid-March, and gradually reduced as very few travellers have arrived in the past few weeks.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 in retrospect
Among the 429 infected people who got tested, 51 per cent of them reported coughing, 45 per cent had a fever, 25 per cent had a stuffy or runny nose, 17 per cent experienced an abnormal sense of smell, and 10 per cent had an abnormal sense of taste.
The first 100 cases that were confirmed of COVID-19 were present with the two most common symptoms – fever and coughing.
Of these 100 cases, 54 per cent had a fever, 54 per cent were coughing, 35 per cent had a sore throat, 27 per cent had a stuffy or runny nose, 25 per cent had fatigue, 14 per cent had sore muscles, 10 per cent had diarrhoea, 10 per cent had headaches, 10 per cent had an abnormal sense of smell or taste, and two per cent had nausea or were vomiting.
How Taiwan handled infected people on a navy ship
It was reported that the number of confirmed cases on the navy supply ship, Panshih, was lower than in similar incidents in other countries.
Mr Chang revealed that the people on board who had fever were told to stay in the ship’s sickbay until their fever subsided. They were also required to wear masks when they returned to their posts.
“We don’t know if they conformed to the order to wear masks at all times, but if the infected people wore a mask, the healthy crew members wore a mask or if they all wore masks at least some of the time, the risk of viral transmission would still be significantly reduced,” Mr Chang stated.
As reported on the website of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, there is a total of 437 confirmed COVID-19 as of today (4 May). So far, 334 people have recovered from the disease, and six people had passed away.