More suspected cases of avian influenza reported

MEASURES::The Presidential Office yesterday said that the government has put in place measures to prevent an epidemic and urged the public to remain calm, but vigilant

By Stacy Hsu and Alison Hsiao  /  Staff writer and staff reporter, with CNA

Tue, Apr 09, 2013 - Page 1

Seven more suspected cases of H7N9 avian influenza were reported in Taiwan as of yesterday morning, of which three were detected at an airport and later given the all-clear, while four were detected at hospitals, with three still waiting for test results, the Central Epidemic Command Center said.

Three passengers arriving from China’s H7N9-affected areas showed influenza-like symptoms, but were later found not to have the H7N9 infection, the center said.

Of the four people others displayed influenza-like symptoms, one tested negative for the H7N9 bird flu virus, while results for the others were still being processed.

To date, 27 suspected cases have been reported in Taiwan and none, except the three unconfirmed cases, have tested positive for the H7N9 virus, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) quoted President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as saying that the government had put in place the necessary epidemic prevention measures and urged the public to remain calm, but vigilant.

“The H7N9 avian influenza strain poses a health threat to the public and President Ma is gravely concerned about the outbreak [in China]. The president has instructed the Executive Yuan to pay close attention to developments and is scheduled to personally inspect the Central Epidemic Command Center,” Lee said.

Lee said that the H7N9 outbreak was discussed during a meeting between Ma, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday morning.

In the face of the threat posed by the H7N9 bird flu virus, the Department of Health has implemented necessary prevention measures and designated the virus as a category 5 notifiable disease, Lee quoted Ma as saying, adding that the president believed that these measures were enough to reassure the public.

“Outbreaks of SARS and bird flu have in the past severely impacted the nation, but the government will draw on the experiences learned from those painful incidents in confronting H7N9,” Lee quoted Ma as saying.

“The government will fight off the disease as it would our enemies and will be on full alert,” she quoted Ma as saying.

Later yesterday, the command center reminded travelers going to China to avoid any contact with poultry and to ensure that chickens, ducks and geese (eggs included) are thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Apart from maintaining personal hygiene, if travelers to China display influenza-like symptoms, they should notify the relevant airline company and disease inspection staff at the point of entry, the command center said.

Tour guides and escorts are obligated by the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) and Regulations Governing Quarantine at Ports (港埠檢疫規則) to report to the health authorities if tour members develop influenza-like symptoms while traveling, the command center said.

A list with all the tour members’ names, contact information and the accommodation schedule should also be provided to help health authorities’ track the disease, the command center said.