The government last night announced that a Central Epidemic Command Center has been established to address the outbreak of dengue fever after the number of dengue cases reported in Kaohsiung passed 1,000 yesterday.
Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) earlier in the day said that such a center would be established should reported cases reach 10,000 nationwide or 1,000 in Kaohsiung.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data as of Sunday showed that there were 9,566 cases nationwide and 980 in Kaohsiung.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said that Vice Premier Chang Shan-cheng (張善政) would be in charge of the center and that it would hold its first meeting today.
Sun dismissed media reports that the formation of the command center meant that the central government was taking over from local governments.
“The Executive Yuan is not taking over from the local governments. A lot of work still has to be carried out by the local governments on the frontline,” he said.
The Executive Yuan would coordinate the battle against the disease, pooling the resources of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Ministry of National Defense, he added.
The central government has formed a command center to combat dengue twice before, in 2006 and 2010.
A specialist, who declined to be named, said that the central government should have assumed control of the situation earlier, but added “it is better late than never.”
Such a center could be considered successful in combating the outbreak if the number of cases does not exceed 30,000, the specialist said.
CDC Director-General Steve Kuo (郭旭崧) previously said the establishment of a command center would be determined by three conditions: if the Tainan City Government told the Executive Yuan that it could not control the outbreak; if communication between the central and local governments failed; or if the outbreak’s spread had not slowed by the end of this month.
Regarding whether the central government might be “unprepared” to handle the situation as none of the three conditions Kuo outlined have been met, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that “everything would be done according to the Executive Yuan’s instructions.”
Meanwhile, despite Tainan being at the center of the outbreak, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) said that it was reluctant to switch playing fields because the games boost public morale.
The league said that it reached an agreement with the Tainan-based Uni-President Lions not to move the games scheduled for Tainan.
The team had its stadium disinfected and fumigated on Friday last week, and the league said it would provide insect repellent at all stadiums.
The league would also cooperate with local governments to carry out public awareness and prevention campaigns so that both players and fans could feel safe at games, the league said.
It said it would use its television broadcasts and big screens at stadiums to promote dengue fever prevention measures.
CPBL president John Wu (吳志揚), along with league secretary-general Chu Kang-chen (朱康震) and Uni-President Lions general manager Su Tai-an (蘇泰安), are to visit Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) tomorrow to express their willingness to cooperate with the local government in fighting the disease.
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