Tue, Apr 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

NTU angry at SARS jibes

DISEASE While officials at the CDC haven't cited a rise in cases, police are looking for 105 passengers who were on a Dragonair flight with a SARS patient

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students at the Chien An Elementary School, next to the CTCI Building where four cases of SARS were discovered last week, wear respirators to school yesterday.


The National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) yesterday explained how one of its doctors contracted severe acute respiratory (SARS) while tending a SARS case and dismissed rumors surrounding the hospital's handling of SARS patients.

Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an infectious disease specialist from the hospital, said in a press conference that the doctor, now listed as one of the "probable cases," entered an isolation ward of a SARS patient on March 17.

"The doctor was in the ward to help the placement of the endotracheal tube in a SARS patient. After the intubation, the patient began severe coughing. The doctor stood besides the patient until her coughing stopped," Chang said.

According to Chang, the intubation lasted for about an hour, with three doctors and three nurses present throughout the process.

All of them put on the required outfits, including surgical masks, before entering the isolation ward, Chang stressed.

Chang said the hospital has been trying to find out why the doctor became infected with SARS after the hospital has imposed strict quarantine measures since it received its first SARS cases.

Chen Ming-fong (陳明豐), vice superintendent of NTUH, emphasized that although more than one hundred officials at the hospital have been involved with the patients' treatment, the hospital has launched stringent quarantine measures to protect its staff.

Chen dismissed rumors that the hospital exposed its staff to the risk of contracting SARS by shutting down the air conditioning system in order to save costs.

According to Chang, air pressure in the isolation wards is lower than the air pressure outside the wards. While doors of the wards are opened, air outside the wards would flow in but no air in the wards would flow out.

Therefore, no particles released by the SARS patients could possibly escape the wards to infect others, Chang said.

"The doctor might not have sealed his surgical mask. Besides, while the patient coughed, the doctor happened to be standing almost in front of the patient," Chang said.

Besides, Chang said the first SARS cases admitted to the hospital, a couple, have been recovering well. "They might be discharged in a few days," Chang said.

While fatalities have been reported in other SARS-hit countries, Chang said the hospital's careful management of supportive medication measures for the patients might be most helpful to the cases' recovery.

Meanwhile, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 76 suspected SARS cases have been reported by yesterday afternoon.

Thirteen are "probable cases" and 11 "suspect cases." Twenty-four are not SARS cases and 32 reported cases have been discharged from the hospital. The rest of the cases are in the verification process, said the CDC.

One of the cases reported yesterday has traveled to Beijing and returned to Taiwan via Seoul, the CDC said.

Dragonair said yesterday it has been notified by Hong Kong's Department of Health that a passenger onboard its Flight KA901 from Beijing to Hong Kong on March 26 has contracted SARS.

According to Dragonair, 105 passengers who were traveling on that flight have transferred to Taiwan. The CDC said it has been tracking the passengers with the help of the police.

The Executiver Yuan predicted that the tourism industry is estimated to suffer a NT$8.5 billion lose if the malady drags on until the end of the year. GDP is also estimated to suffer a drop of between 0.03 percent and 0.1 percent.

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