Taiwan Scours Dead Taxi Driver’s Data to Trace Coronavirus Path

Health authorities in Taiwan are scouring travel histories, phone records and security camera footage in an effort to map out everyone who came into contact with a taxi driver who became Taiwan’s first confirmed death from the coronavirus.

The victim, a man in his 60s from central Taiwan who died Saturday, had not recently traveled overseas and had no recorded contact with any of the 19 other people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Taiwan, according to a statement from Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control.

Authorities are trying to identify everyone who came into contact with the taxi driver in the days and weeks leading up to his hospitalization on Feb. 3. Officials are looking through his travel logs while working, his telephone records and security camera footage showing passengers he picked up, according to a report by Taipei-based Central News Agency.

Taiwan has 20 confirmed cases of the virus so far. The death was the fifth outside of mainland China. Other fatalities have occurred in Japan, Hong Kong, France and the Philippines.

The coronavirus outbreak presents a unique challenge for Taiwan’s government. Around 400,000 Taiwanese citizens work in China, many of whom traveled back to Taiwan for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January and stayed as the outbreak worsened.

Compounding the difficulty is China’s refusal to communicate directly with President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, and its insistence that Taiwan be excluded from international bodies such as the World Health Organization. Beijing views Taiwan as part of Chinese territory, a claim Taiwan’s government rejects.

All residents of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau have been barred from traveling to Taiwan. Tsai’s administration has also halted all flights to China, except for those to and from the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu.

— With assistance by Adela Lin

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