TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan on Tuesday reported its first locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 22 - a doctor in a hospital who was treating an infected patient, and a nurse who is the doctor's girlfriend.
Until last month's domestic transmission the island had not reported any local cases since April 12, with the vast majority of infections in people coming to Taiwan from overseas.
Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention methods and widespread mask wearing. It has reported 839 cases, including seven deaths, with 101 in hospital being treated.
But Taiwan's government has watched nervously as imported cases rise, albeit at a far lower rate than in many other places, with December's domestic infection causing particular worry.
"Of course, we really regret the hospital infection," Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters. "Our hospital control measures are extremely strict, but inevitably something may have been overlooked."
While the doctor had been treating a COVID-19 patient, his nurse girlfriend had not, Chen said.
A total of 464 contacts at the hospital have been screened with all returning negative tests, while another 42 people were in the process of being tested, he said.
All hospital workers will be tested again within three days, Chen said.
Taiwan has reported so few COVID-19 cases compared with many other places around the world that health officials hold news conferences to give details of every new infection.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Robert Birsel)