TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan reported its first case of domestic transmission of the new coronavirus on Tuesday and raised its travel warning for China, saying people should avoid going unless absolutely necessary following the outbreak of the virus there.
Taiwan and China have close economic and cultural ties, and the island has reported eight confirmed cases of the virus. All of the more than 100 deaths from the virus have been in China, centred on Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre said the latest patient, the eighth, was the first case of transmission on the island as in all the previous cases the people had been infected first in China.
The new patient, a man in his 50s from central Taiwan, was infected by his wife after she returned from working in China and before she was subsequently diagnosed, the command centre said. The man is in a stable condition, it said.
Separately, the command centre said it would extend to the rest of China an earlier warning not to go to Hubei province unless totally necessary, though Hong Kong and Macau are excluded.
Taiwan has also restricted the vast majority of Chinese visitors.
Last week, Taiwan’s government announced a one-month ban on the export of specialist masks designed to be used for medical personnel, saying it had to look after the needs of its own people first.
Some pharmacies in Taiwan have said they face shortages of face masks. The government has said it is working to ensure supplies and announced it will release more masks, but limit each person to buying a maximum of three.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, visiting people to extend Lunar New Year wishes, said the government was fully prepared to deal with the virus and people should not panic.
“Our anti-epidemic work does not take holidays, and is taking place 24 hours a day,” the presidential office quoted her as saying.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Editing by William Maclean and Timothy Heritage