Thu, May 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

SARS epidemic: Five buildings in Taipei's `judiciary square' take steps

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Five buildings in Taipei's "judiciary square" yesterday began checking the body temperatures of everyone entering the buildings in a bid to check the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

"We are very close to the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital so it is necessary for us to take some precautionary measures," said Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, "even though no staff members, inmates or detainees have been infected by SARS."

The five buildings in "judiciary square" are the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Building where the Taipei District Court and the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office are located, the Taiwan High Court and the Taipei High Administrative Court.

In addition to sterilizing the buildings every day from yesterday, guards at the buildings began to check the temperatures of all employees and visitors. Those found with a fever over 38?C will not be allowed inside the buildings.

According to Chen, court dates will be rescheduled if anyone involved in a hearing or a trial has a fever.

"No court activity will be held until the person whose body temperature is over 38?C is proved to have a malady not related to SARS," he said.

Chen said guards would escort inmates or detainees with a fever to the nearest hospital for a health check to make sure they do not have SARS before they are allowed to return to the court for hearings or trials.

"Making sure SARS is under control is the most important thing for everybody. Everything else can wait," he said.

Asked whether other court buildings and prosecutors' offices were implementing the same measures, Chen said that other buildings were also checking the temperatures of people entering them but that other authorities had to make their own decisions on how to take care of those with fevers and whether they should reschedule their court dates.

Taipei City Government's Traffic Adjudication Office (台北市交通裁決所) has also begun checking the temperatures of those entering its offices.

"We have 1,200 visitors a day on average. We have to do this," said Chen Chin-sheng (陳金盛), the director of the office.

According to Chen, traffic violators will have a mercy period if they are SARS patients or their body temperatures are found to be over 38?C on the ticket due date.

"For these people, we will figure out the proper length for their mercy periods. At the very least, we will not ask them to come back and pay their fines before the doctors decide that they have recovered," he said.

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