Taipei, April 18 (CNA) A total of 12 members of a 30-plus-member Taiwan delegation that returned from Palau last week after attending an international conference in the Pacific island have tested positive for COVID-19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Monday.
Currently, all 12 have relatively mild symptoms and are still undergoing their compulsory 10-day quarantine, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
The delegation returned to Taiwan on Saturday after visiting the Pacific ally from Tuesday to Friday, mainly to attend the two-day 7th Our Ocean Conference (OOC) from Wednesday to Thursday.
The members of the delegation took their required PCR screenings upon their return to Taiwan. The test results for four came back positive on Sunday.
Screenings for another eight members of the delegation came back positive on Monday, according to Ou.
The delegation was led by Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Chang Tzi-chin’s (張子敬) and included Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang (田中光); cabinet-level Ocean Affairs Council Deputy Minister Tsai Ching-piao (蔡清標), among others.
It marked the first time Taiwan has sent an official delegation to the annual event, which MOFA said is committed to taking concrete and significant action to protect the ocean.
Previously, Taiwan’s delegation participated in the OCC as an NGO and its EPA minister attended in a personal capacity.
Palau, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, was one of the few countries in the world to remain COVID-free for more than a year after the pandemic started, recording its first case in August 2021.
However, over the past few months the number of COVID-19 cases in the Pacific island country has risen sharply, reaching 4,122 with six deaths, according to government data.
(By Joseph Yeh)