Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Government to focus on cases in Kaohsiung

INFECTION CRISIS While the epidemic seems to be under control in Taipei, officials are trying to stop hospital-to-hospital transmissions in the south

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH REUTERS

Doctors and nurses have a discussion yesterday in a tent set up outside Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung to screen for SARS patients.

PHOTO: HUNG TING-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The government will do its best to strengthen "fire walls" at hospitals to fight against SARS outbreaks in the south, Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), head of the SARS-prevention command center under the Cabinet's SARS Response Committee, said yesterday.

In a TV speech last night, Lee explained the situation to an audience in southern Taiwan, saying hospitals in the area had become the main battlefield since the situation in the north had come under control.

"In the south, all hospitals need to strengthen their self-protection capabilities," Lee said.

Th Department of Health (DOH) yesterday ordered all pharmacies not to sell antipyretics in order to control the spread of SARS.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH, SARS had claimed 52 lives in Taiwan as of yesterday. There have been 418 probable cases.

CDC Director Su Yi-jen (蘇益仁) said yesterday all hospitals in Kaohsiung and Tainan should remain on alert for SARS patients.

Su said the infection rate of health care workers at hospitals in Taiwan is about 30 percent, which is lower than that of Hong Kong at 72 percent.

"Necessary measures have been taken. We hope to reduce the rate to zero within a week," Su said.

At Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, there were no new cases reported over the past three days.

The quarantine of Chang Gung will end on Sunday and all outpatient services will be available on from next Thursday.

The SARS outbreak at Chang Gung Hospital spilled over into other major hospitals in the south, including Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital and Tainan-based Chi Mei Hospital.

Former Taipei City Bureau of Health director Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), who is in charge of investigating outbreaks at the hospitals, revisited Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital yesterday to investigate the SARS infection.

Yeh said medical resources at the hospital were sufficient to deal with the situation, which he said would never be as bad as what happened at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

"In the following 10 days, we should be vigilant for any infection in residential areas in southern Taiwan," Yeh said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday it had extended its SARS travel warning for Taipei to include the rest of Taiwan.

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