Sun, Dec 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan says it will treat China case as confirmed

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday it would treat Guangdong's suspected SARS case as a confirmed one and tightened up quarantine measures on passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The CDC convened an emergency meeting after a 32-year-old male was reported to have contracted SARS in Guangdong, the first SARS case appearing in China in months.

The patient, a TV program producer, came down with fever on Dec. 16 and was hospitalized on Dec. 20. Final results of tests on the man are not yet available, said CDC Director Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁).

The CDC is "very concerned" about the case because it believes the man could not be the first one to have contracted SARS in Guangdong recently.

"Initial investigation showed the man did not eat wild animals over the past months," Su said, referring to theories that the disease was originally transferred to humans through eating wild animals.

The likelihood is high, therefore, that the man was infected through person-to-person contact, suggesting that there might be other, as yet undetected, carriers of the SARS virus in Guangdong.

"We need to know how he was infected and whether there might be other origins spreading the disease," Su said. China announced the man as a suspected case yesterday.

Su said when Taiwan's first SARS case in months, Lieutenant Colonel Chan, was reported on Dec. 16, his hospital and the CDC immediately conducted tests on him and confirmed him as a SARS case within 12 hours.

Chan, staying in Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, is expected to be discharged by the end of the month, a hospital spokesman said.

Su questioned why China needed so long to verify the Guangdong case.

The CDC contacted various international and Hong Kong health agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Chinese University of Hong Kong and local health authorities in Guangdong, to understand the latest developments in the case.

Information about the case remains limited, the CDC said.

According to China's record of handling the SARS epidemic last year, it is "highly possible" that the case is a real one, said Su, urging China to be more transparent with its information.

Although the CDC decided to treat the case as a genuine one, it will wait for the WHO, US Centers for Disease Control and China to make the final judgment about the case, Su said.

If the case is confirmed, the Cabinet will convene a meeting at 9am tomorrow to discuss related measures, Su said.

SARS control measures remained at level B yesterday, where they have been since Chan's case was diagnosed.

Level B measures include running temperature checks on all incoming passengers at international airports.

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