Thu, May 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

SARS epidemic: DOH denies outbreak at Chunghsing Hospital

CNA , TAIPEI

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday denied that there has been mass transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) inside Taipei Municipal Chunghsing Hospital.

DOH Deputy Director-General Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) said whether mass SARS transmission has occurred at a hospital will be determined by medical specialists, adding that the mass media and individuals should refrain from spreading rumors which could lead to panic in the general public.

Rumors about mass SARS transmission at Chunghsing Hospital arose after four of its nurses developed a fever Monday. The nurses had cared for a patient transferred from Jen Chi Hospital, which has been sealed off because of a SARS outbreak there. The patient died from multiple organ failure Tuesday.

Lee said that verification by specialists of the cause of death is still pending. Even if the four Chunghsing Hospital nurses have indeed contracted SARS, he said, the transmission would have been the result of close contact with the patient.

"The case should not be classified as transmission inside the hospital," he said.

Meanwhile, Chunghsing Hospital Director Weng Lin-chung (翁林仲) said the four nurses no longer have a fever. Nevertheless, he said, the hospital has kept in place the most stringent quarantine measures to cope with the situation.

"All four of the nurses are undergoing quarantine in special wards," he said.

According to Weng, the patient from Jen Chi Hospital had suffered from diabetes and heart disease.

"As he also had a high fever and pneumonia-like symptoms, we suspect that his death might have something to do with SARS," Weng said, adding that the exact cause is pending verification by DOH specialists.

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