Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 1 News List

New SARS cases cast doubt on claim

UNDER CONTROL?A drop in the number of cases on Saturday prompted officials to suggest the epidemic was being reined in, but yesterday's figures suggest otherwise

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Peng Chung-hui, left, Lin Chun-chieh, right, and four other bus drivers from Capital Bus Co who volunteered to transport SARS patients are welcomed by their colleagues as they come out from quarantine yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

One day after Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), head of the Cabinet's SARS prevention committee, said statistics suggest the epidemic is under control, 22 new probable cases and 12 deaths were reported yesterday.

Lee had urged residents on Saturday to return to their normal lives because it appeared the battle against the epidemic was being won.

Statistics released by the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday bring the total number of probable SARS cases to 570 and the number of SARS deaths to 72.

Meanwhile, the infection rate among health-care workers in hospitals had been reduced to 3.7 percent from 30 percent in the middle of last month, according to the DOH.

"However, I'm not saying that everything is OK. We still can't slack off when it comes to SARS control measures, such as having temperatures taken daily and wearing masks in closed areas," Lee said.

Lee said most activities, such as holding meetings and traveling, could be conducted as usual provided no one with a fever is present.

DOH Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday that people in quarantine should remain calm because the infection rate was quite low.

"Statistically speaking, there is only one probable SARS case among 7,000 residents in isolation at home and there's only one suspected case among 4,000 [people in home isolation]," Chen said.

Chen said 97 percent of fevers reported to health authorities were unrelated to SARS.

"We urge people to live in an ordinary, peaceful and safe way," Chen said.

Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) yesterday stressed the importance of community-based cooperation in confronting SARS.

"If all members of a community can take temperatures carefully and rule out those who have a fever, normal day-to-day life can continue," Lee said at a press conference held by non-governmental organizations focusing on disease control.

Lee said fighting SARS would not be too difficult if people cooperate and carry out required measures.

Asked about Lee's plans, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that residents should neither overreact nor let their guard down.

According to the Taipei City Government, the number of reported patients suffering from a fever reached 1,127 as of Saturday.

Thirty-two new fever-sufferers were reported on Saturday, down from Friday's 52.

"We do our best to take prevention measures but not to overreact," Ma said.

In southern Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) attended the opening ceremony of a special SARS clinic yesterday with Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

According to Hsieh, 18 special hospital beds will be available at the center, which was designed based on the advice of US health experts.

Also see stories:

City health director steps down

SARS doctors' ethics put to the test

New CDC director fights the virus

Canada reports new SARS cases

Don't neglect treatment of the mind

Media have a role in war on SARS

HK residents feel safe in cyberspace

This story has been viewed 4822 times.
TOP top