Sun, May 04, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Premier urges harsh action for all quarantine violators


In an attempt to prevent the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the community, Premier Yu Shyi-kun announced yesterday that the government has implemented stricter measures for people who break home quarantine.

Those who are under home quarantine, and who do not properly isolate themselves from the public, will be subjected to enforced quarantine.

The government has already arranged to confine those who do not obey fully the home quarantine regulations at the Kaoshanding military barracks (高山頂營區) at Yangmei (楊梅).

Yu also asked local bureaus of health, police and borough wardens to closely watch people under home quarantine, to check whether they indeed stay at home for the full 10 days.

"Violators are punishable under the Communicable Disease Prevention Law (傳染病防治法), and violators can be fined from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000," Yu said.

Both Yu and Ma stressed that the most important thing in the battle against SARS is to prevent SARS from breaking out in the community at large.

Yu made the harsh warning during his first meeting with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) after SARS broke out in Taipei. He led heads and officials from different ministries and departments, including Director of Department of Health Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) to attend the daily Taipei City SARS meeting.

The warning came as a response to people violating their home quarantine by leaving their homes, thus increasing the chances of transmission within the community.

The premier offered an example: a researcher from a well-known academic research center went to Hong Kong against the wishes of the center. When the researcher returned, the government issued a home quarantine order, but the person has since disregarded the order.

"When well-educated people act like this, what can we expect of the ordinary folk?" Yu asked.

There is also the problem of reporters interviewing at close quarters people who are under home quarantine .

After Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital's head nurse, Chen Ching-chiu (陳靜秋), passed away, some newspaper reporters went to her home to interview her husband, who was under home quarantine.

The Taipei City Government issued a warning against such actions two days ago, listing possible punishments.

Yesterday Yu also commented about Hoping Hospital turning into a SARS treatment center.

Yu said, "the government will look into matters of scheduling, equipment and the patients' mental conditions to decide whether it is suitable for Hoping to become a SARS treatment center."

"If everything is alright, then the plan should go ahead; however, if we see any problems, it may be necessary to look for a second SARS treatment center."

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