Mon, Apr 15, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Suspected H7N9 cases continue to increase in Taiwan

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The Central Epidemic Command Center said that four suspected H7N9 cases had been identified in the 24-hour period ending at 8am yesterday. It added that a boy from H7N9-affected Zhejiang Province in China, who was traveling with his parents, was said to have developed a fever in Hualien yesterday morning and that the emergency room he was sent to had been temporarily closed.

Two of the four cases were later determined not to be H7N9 infections.

According to the Central News Agency, the four-year-old boy was taken to the Mennonite Christian Hospital’s emergency room, and after it was discovered that the family came from an H7N9-affected region, the hospital closed the room for a short period to avoid possible contact with other patients.

Local health authorities said specimens obtained from the boy and his mother, who had not developed influenza-like symptoms, but has been the boy’s main care provider, had been sent to Taipei for testing. The boy and his mother were quarantined, but no restrictions were imposed on the boy’s father.

The latest report from the center said that the boy and the mother did not have H7N9.

Asked about the cost of quarantine measures and possible hospitalizations if more Chinese tourists fall ill during their stays, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official Yang Chin-hui (楊靖慧) said that since H7N9 avian influenza has been officially categorized as a category 5 notifiable communicable disease, anyone suspected of being infected, regardless of nationality, had to be quarantined.

“Quarantine measures are required by law for category 1 and 5 notifiable communicable diseases. As this is compulsory, the cost is to be shouldered by the government,” Yang said. “Costs will be met using the CDC’s official budget, not using National Health Insurance funds.”

Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義), who heads the command center, added that public health was the primary concern.

“We are trying to protect the nation from a possible spread of the disease,” Chang said, adding that the WHO has so far not recommended any travel restrictions be applied to China.

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