Sun, Jan 16, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Flu taking its toll around Taiwan

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP

The annual winter outbreak of influenza has hit Taiwan particularly hard this year, with two babies dying in Taipei, more than 68,000 school children in central Taichung being taken sick, and Kaohsiung hospitals and clinics filled to overflowing.

Medical facilities around the country have begun to gear up for the increase in patients, according to Tu Hsin-che (涂醒哲), director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control (疾病管制局).

The flu virus currently affecting people in Taiwan is type A, which is capable of mutating over time and is therefore often difficult to treat effectively.

Tu said the number of people who are infected with the type A virus has decreased in the north, while the situation remains unstable in central Taiwan, and is rapidly growing worse in the south.

"I have never seen a flu so serious like this one," said Liao Ming-kung, the headmaster of Tatu elementary school, as more than two-thirds of his school's 1,500 children were struck down by the illness.

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