Fri, Apr 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Tigerair Taiwan denies virus cover-up

MEASLES:The Centers for Disease Control said it is monitoring 852 people who might have had contact with a woman diagnosed with the highly contagious virus

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Ground crew work by a plane belonging to low-cost carrier Tigerair Taiwan at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on May 22 last year.

Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times

Low-cost carrier Tigerair Taiwan (台灣虎航) yesterday denied that it had tried to cover up that two of its flight attendants had measles.

Tigerair Taiwan said in a statement yesterday that it has never purposely put ill crew members on duty and that it immediately canceled the two staff members’ upcoming flights once they exhibited symptoms of measles.

One staff member had sought medical attention several times since the onset of the symptoms, but he was misdiagnosed with a cold, the carrier said, adding that he was immediately quarantined after being listed as a suspected measles case on Monday.

A passenger list of those who could have had contact with the infected crew members has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the airline said.

The airline made the remarks one day after the CDC announced that a female flight attendant in her 20s working for Tigerair Taiwan had been diagnosed with the virus.

The woman has been confirmed to be infected with a strain identified as associated with three cluster cases that were announced on Tuesday, the CDC said.

The first case of measles brought into Taiwan this year was confirmed on Thursday last week when a man in his 30s suffering from coughing and a high fever after returning from a trip to Thailand early last month was diagnosed with the virus, the CDC said.

The man saw a doctor on March 15 and March 16, but thought the fever was only a cold.

On March 17 he flew with Tigerair Taiwan to Okinawa, Japan, where he was diagnosed with measles on March 19.

The man returned to Taiwan on Monday last week.

Another man, who is a colleague of the man in the first case and who lives in northern Taiwan, was diagnosed with measles on Saturday last week.

On Tuesday, a male flight attendant in his 30s, who was working on the March 17 flight to Okinawa, was also diagnosed with measles.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that the female flight attendant started exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and has not worked on any flights since.

However, infected people are considered contagious four days before a rash appears and she had worked on six flights during the incubation period, Chuang said.

The woman worked on flights to Japan’s Kansai International Airport and Narita International Airport, as well as Macau International Airport, the CDC said.

A total of 852 people might have had direct contact with the woman, Chuang said, adding that local health departments plan to follow up on people’s health conditions until April 24.

The 505 people who might have had direct contact with the first three cases are to be monitored until April 23, Chuang said.

Late last night, the CDC announced five new cases of measles, two of whom were on the same flight to Okinawa as the first case.

The other three cases were a woman in her 40s, a man in his 20s and a man in his 30s.

The former two departed for Macau at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on March 17, the agency said.

The CDC said the man in his 30s, who departed for Thailand on March 17, is the brother of another imported measles case confirmed on Tuesday and also a Tigerair Taiwan crew member.

The crew member had taken public transportation in Taiwan and served on several flights during the incubation period to Japan’s Iwate-Hanamaki Airport, Fukuoka Airport and Kansai International Airport, the CDC said, adding that he could have had direct contact with 1,026 people.

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