Epidemic control center sends experts to China

MONITORING::Authorities at the nation’s ports of entry are on high alert, screening passengers and bringing those with influenza-like symptoms to nearby hospitals

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 1

The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday said that in addition to activating its emergency center, it had dispatched two disease control experts to Shanghai to obtain first-hand information about the H7N9 avian influenza outbreak, as well as the disease control measures and strategies employed by the city government to contain its spread.

As the number of confirmed cases of the H7N9 infection, which now stands at 20, continues to rise in China’s eastern provinces, health authorities have been on high alert at Taiwan’s ports of entry, screening visitors and returning Taiwanese for influenza-like symptoms.

A Taiwanese returning from Zhejiang Province, one of the four provinces in China where H7N9 has been identified, had a fever and other influenza-like symptoms and was brought to a local hospital for a H7N9 diagnostics test, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

“This man is the second suspected case to be brought to a hospital from the airport. Both, including the other person returning from Jiansu Province reported earlier, have been cleared of infection,” Chou said.

As of yesterday morning, there were four more suspected cases reported by local hospitals, two of which are still waiting for their test results, Chou said.

The CDC said yesterday afternoon that it had ruled out the virus in tourists from Shanghai and Wenzhou in Jiangsu Province, but it did not provide details on the other two people still undergoing tests. Eight suspected cases were previously reported to authorities between Wednesday and Saturday, but none of the cases tested positive for the H7N9 virus.

As part of a dispatch plan, two disease control experts arrived in Shanghai to have a closer look at the measures being taken to control the virus, including the monitoring and reporting of the disease, the medical testing of and treatment for infected people, the restrictions in place, as well as other control measures, the command center said.

The commander-in-chief of the center, Chang Feng-yee (張峰義), said more medical personnel would be sent if needed and the duration of the two experts’ stay would not be long — one week at most.