The flare-up of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital has been effectively brought under control, and the next step is to prevent transmission into the community at large, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.
In a briefing to Premier Yu Shyi-kun on the status of the SARS outbreak in Taipei, the mayor said there have been no new SARS cases among medical staff at Hoping Hospital since it was sealed off on April 24 after seven of its staff fell ill with symptoms similar to that of the virus.
He quoted the city's medical adviser Dr. Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) as saying that all SARS cases at Hoping, including that of a chief nurse who died from the disease Thursday, occurred before April 24.
Yeh voluntarily entered Hoping the second day after it was closed to lead the fight against the virus and left the hospital on Friday after most of the hospital's SARS patients had been removed to other hospitals with isolation wards.
Ma apologized for the outbreak at Hoping, Hospital adding that the battleground against the epidemic has now transferred to the community at large.
Bracing for the fight against SARS in communities, Taipei City Government has stepped up the monitoring of the health of the city's homeless, Ma said.
City social workers have been handing out free meal boxes to homeless people every evening at the Taipei Railway Station, and providing them with surgical masks and taking their temperature in an attempt to prevent them from being infected with the SARS virus.
The city also launched a city-wide house-disinfection campaign yesterday by issuing bleach to the city's 800,000-odd households.
* Social workers are handing out free lunch boxes to homeless people and equipping them with face masks.
* The city's 800,000 homes were given bleach, with residents urged to disinfect furniture and door knobs.
* Taipei Railway Station and nearby buildings were disinfected by city cleaners.
Health workers were seen on television showing how to dilute the bleach with 120 parts water before applying the solution to the surface of door knobs and furniture to kill bacteria.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Pai Hsiou-hsiung (白秀雄) and Director of the Environmental Protection Bureau Stephen Shen (沈世宏) inspected the disinfection of the Taipei Railway Station and adjoining MRT station as well as nearby hotels and cram schools yesterday morning.
They estimated that it will take three to six days to finish the disinfection of all the city's public buildings.