Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Taipei extends isolation order

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

As additional fever cases were reported in the Huachang Public Housing Complex last night, the Taipei City Government decided to extend the quarantine period for the community.

Meanwhile, the National Taiwan University Hospital said last night that its emergency room service would be suspended for a week.

The emergency room will resume its service at 8am so it could be disinfected and open on Monday.

Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), commander of the Cabinet's anti-SARS task force, said earlier yesterday that testing of water samples from ducts of the complex had found no existence of coronavirus, the virus that causes SARS.

"The sudden rise in probable cases and deaths does not indicate a worsening of the outbreak. The increase resulted from our accelerating the verification procedure of reported SARS cases," Lee said.

According to Lee, some of the deaths reported yesterday occurred a few days ago. They were added to the fatality list yesterday because their samples had not been verified until then.

According to the task force, as of yesterday morning, 11,688 people have been put under domestic quarantine nationwide.

According to the Taipei County's Bureau of Health, Chou Chi-hui (周起輝), the first government official to have died of SARS, took the same bus as a cashier from Pacific Sogo Department Store in Taipei who caught SARS.

The bureau said Chou and the cashier, surnamed Lee, took a south-bound Kuokuang (國光號) bus with the license plate number AG678 that departed from a Taipei station on April 24.

Lee and a handful of passengers on the bus were listed as suspect SARS cases. The bureau called on passengers who had taken the bus to pay attention to their health.

Chou got on the bus from Taichung to Chiayi and began to feel ill on April 26.

Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), director-general of the Department of Health, said test kits for SARS provided by the WHO will be ready for use from today.

Twu said the test kits, which will be used to test for SARS antigens, would be primarily applied to probable and suspect SARS cases.

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