Fri, May 02, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Two more die as city plans cleanup

DEADLY DISEASE A nurse at Taipei's Hoping Hospital and a former patient are thought to have died from SARS, as Taipei started giving everyone bottles of bleach

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Taipei Pest Control Association prepare to disinfect Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, which has been closed since last Thursday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Health officials yesterday reported two more deaths related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as the Taipei City Government began giving everyone in the city bleach to disinfect their homes.

The new deaths brought the national total to five, although the Department of Health did not update its statistics on SARS cases from the day before. On Wednesday it reported 78 probable cases.

Both people who died yesterday had contact with the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, where almost all the staff and patients have been quarantined since Thursday last week.

One was the hospital's 48-year-old head nurse, Chen Ching-chiu (陳靜秋).

Chen went to Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou on April 20 when she began to feel ill.

The chairman of Chang-Gung's Inspection Control Committee, Chiang Ping-cheng (江秉誠), said, "Chen had had a fever for three or four days before we took her in. We checked her X-ray and came across signs of pneumonia in one lung."

"Her condition deteriorated quickly, and she died of respiratory failure at 5am yesterday morning."

Chen had worked at Hoping Hospital for 20 years.

Yesterday afternoon Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) paid tribute to Chen for her service to the city and SARS patients.

"She died a brave fighter in the battle against SARS. I hope her efforts will lead us to the final victory against the epidemic," Ma said.

The other person who died was a 75-year-old veteran surnamed Kuo, who received treatment at Hoping Hospital on April 15 and April 16.

"Kuo died of cardiac failure. He was a long-time smoker who had coronary heart disease and diabetes," Chang Shang-chun (張上淳) of National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) said.

"He was admitted to NTUH with breathing difficulties and a urinary infection on April 23, when the cross-infection within Hoping Hospital was still unknown," Chang said.

Chang did not say where Kuo had been between April 16 and April 23, the day before Hoping Hospital was sealed off.

"On the April 26, Kuo's condition changed, and we checked his chest X-ray and found there were signs of pneumonia. We then checked his national health insurance card and discovered he went to Hoping emergency department on April 15 and April 16.

"We immediately put him under quarantine after we realized he might be a possible SARS case. After our treatment failed, he passed away on April 30."

Chang said that because Kuo's SARS symptoms had not been identified until Saturday, hospital staff had not taken precautions against the disease and were therefore now being quarantined.

Meanwhile, the former director of Taipei City's Bureau of Health, Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), who is in Hoping Hospital monitoring the situation on behalf of the city government, was upbeat yesterday.

"The battle in Hoping is coming to an end, and now the Taipei City Government should concentrate on battling SARS in the community," he said.

To counter the spread of the disease, the city's government said yesterday it was providing one liter of bleach to everyone in the city.

"Starting from today we are giving out sterilizing liquid to every borough in the city," Ma said. "The borough wardens should distribute the liquid to every household within the area. The citizens can also go to the wardens to ask for the liquid.

"People should start disinfecting their homes and offices at least once a day by Saturday at the latest. Places, such as elevators and counters, that are frequently touched by people, should even be cleaned with the liquid once every hour," he said.

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