Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 1 News List

SARS makes inroads into countryside

BREAKING OUT Cases have been reported in Hualien, Ilan and Penghu counties as the nation recorded a record jump of 34 cases yesterday

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

SARS has crept its way into eastern Taiwan and the offshore islands as Hualien, Ilan and Penghu counties reported a total of three supected SARS deaths yesterday.

Yesterday also marked the nation's biggest jump in probable SARS cases reported in a single day -- with 34 more new cases. The increase brought the total number of SARS probable cases to 308, but no new deaths were reported.

Although the preliminary test of the death in Hualien came out negative yesterday, Lin Shinn-zong (林欣榮), superintendent of the Tzu Chi Buddhist General Hospital (慈濟醫院) in Hualien, said that further pathological tests still need to be conducted to determine whether the death was caused by SARS.

According to Lin, over 30 people, who were in contact with the dead, began their 10-day compulsory home quarantine yesterday. Nine more people, who were in close contact with the dead, were sent to the Chung-rong Nursery Home in Chian Township for quarantine.

To prevent further deterioration of the outbreak, a SARS command center located at Tzu Chi Buddhist General Hospital was launched yesterday.

Taking the helm of the command center is Wang Li-hsin (王立信), a virologist and deputy chief of Tzu Chi Buddhist General Hospital.

As of yesterday afternoon, a cumulative total of 18 probable SARS cases were reported in Hualien, with three new cases. All of the new probable cases there are high school students.

In Ilan County, a 78-year-old man, surnamed Chao, died at the Po-ai Hospital at 2:25am yesterday. He was listed as a suspected SARS patient before his death.

Chao checked in to a local clinic on Thursday after he developed a high fever and began having problems breathing. His medical record showed that he visited the National Taiwan University Hospital on April 22.

In Penghu County, a 56-year-old man, surnamed Yeh, died on Friday morning at the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Yeh, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, was rushed to the Armed Forces Penghu Hospital after developing a high fever and breathing problems on Tuesday afternoon.

He was listed as a suspected SARS patient before being air lifted to Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital on Friday.

Meanwhile, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said that the Cabinet has set aside NT$3.7 billion to subsidize local governments' SARS-related expenses before the legislature passes the NT$50 billion budget request.

The NT$50 billion budget is earmarked to subsidize the medical expenses and mitigate the economic impact on industries affected by the outbreak.

The Cabinet hopes the proposal will pass the legislature on Friday.

Inspecting the Kaohsiung County Government yesterday morning, Yu called on Kaohsiung residents to be cautious in the face of the SARS outbreak.

"It's dangerous to think that the SARS virus won't make inroads into the south," Yu said.

"Before an effective treatment or vaccine is found, we must do our best to curb the outbreak by isolating suspected patients and tracking down those in contact with them."

Yu yesterday also agreed to include Lin Yung-hsiang (林永祥) in the nation's pantheon of virtuous heroes under the request of Lin's family.

Lin, 28, a resident doctor at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, died of SARS on Friday. He was the nation's second medical doctor to succumb to the highly contagious disease.

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