Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Mystery case kills MOTC official

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chou Chi-hui (周啟輝), a section chief of the Ministry of Transporta-tion and Communications' (MOTC) Directorate General of Highways, passed away yesterday due to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

In another development, two toddlers, one two-year old and the other 4, were listed as reported SARS cases.

National Taiwan University Hospital spokesperson Dr. Lin Ho-Shing (林鶴雄) said, "Chou was sent to our emergency department on May 2. He had fever, and was short of breath. His condition deteriorated fast, he had to have an intubation performed immediately."

"We do not know how he contracted SARS yet. Right now we cannot tell how he got it by looking at his contact history," Lin said.

The ministry pointed out that Chou actually went to the university hospital twice at the end of April.

Lin added that back then Chou had symptoms of fever and coughing, but since he said he had not been to SARS-affected areas, nor Hoping Hospital, the doctor did not suspect he had SARS.

The ministry has asked 56 employees who have shared the same air--conditioning system or have had contact with Chou to go into home quarantine starting yesterday.

Meanwhile, there have not been many cases of young children contracting SARS, and the twwo-year-old child is the youngest patient reported so far.

Taipei City Bureau of Health Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑女是) said, "the mother of the 2 year-old from Panchiao is a nurse employed at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital."

"The mother showed the symptoms of SARS on April 20, the father on 27th and the child on May 2. The child's fever, however, has sub-sided," Chin said.

"The four-year-old, meanwhile, went for treatment at Hoping on April 17. The child then started coughing and began having trouble breathing on April 29. A fever started on May 3, but the child's condition is now stable," Chin said.

In related news, the conditions of the two head nurses, Chang from Hoping and Weng from Jen Chi Hospital, have improved.

Shin Kong Hospital, which is treating Chang, said if everything went well, Chang could be taken off of intubation in a week's time.

Taipei Veterans General Hospital, which is treating Weng, said that her condition has improved and she is now stable. If Weng could make it through the next two days, then she would be safe.

Yesterday another municipal hospital went through a SARS scare. Taipei Municipal Jen Ai Hospital was to receive a patient who had been under home quarantine due to SARS in the early afternoon. The 43-year-old patient, however, died en route to the hospital.

To be on the safe side, Jen Ai shut down its emergency room for three hours to disinfect the area after the man's body arrived.

Taipei City's Bureau of Health Chief Secretary Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘) said, "the hospital saw the man as a suspected SARS case, went on alert and took all the necessary measures to protect itself."

As of yesterday afternoon, an accumulative total of 677 cases have been reported, with 10 deaths. Probable SARS cases remain at 116. Suspected cases have increased to 184, with 150 having been discharged from hospitals.

A total of 9,293 people have been put under home quarantine while 2,756 have been removed from the quarantine list.

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