Sun, May 04, 2003 - Page 3 News List

SARS epidemic: Executive Yuan announces insurance plan

CARE POLICY Medical personnel looking after SARS patients will each fall under a NT$10 million insurance umbrella set up by the Cabinet in the fight against the virus

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

To better protect the nation's healthcare personnel caring for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients, the Executive Yuan yesterday said it would insure medical staff for NT$10 million each as part of a new anti-SARS insurance policy.

"We expect the finance ministry and health department to present a more detailed plan to the premier for final approval," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said at a press conference held after an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the impact of SARS.

The meeting, presided over by Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i (林信義), came after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met with directors of the nation's eight major medical institutions and government officials on Friday night, including Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), director-general of the Department of Health, to discuss prevention measures against possible community transmission.

Concrete measures hammered out yesterday included encouraging the public to inform health authorities about suspected SARS cases, suspending the holding of large-scale activities, promoting the importance of personal hygiene, making public correct and timely SARS-related information and necessary warnings, establishing SARS-related information Web sites, tracking recovered SARS patients and fully implementing the 10-day domestic quarantine policy.

According to the health department, a total of 7,164 people have been put under the 10-day domestic quarantine, 2,217 of which have been removed from the list.

As of yesterday afternoon, an accumulative total of 643 cases have been reported, with eight deaths. Probable SARS cases have risen from 100 to 102. Suspected cases have increased from 97 to 102, with 45 having been discharged from hospitals and 57 still remaining in hospitals.

To fully implement the 10-day domestic quarantine program, Hsu Ying-shen (許應深), political vice minister of the interior ministry, said that the government is determined to fully implement the policy. Violators will face a fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000 or be sent to the government-designated quarantine venue in Yangmei, Taoyuan County. As of yesterday, the location has taken 23 people.

Those reporting to local health authorities within 24 hours after receiving the quarantine notification and who do not violate any related rules will receive a NT$5,000 consolation subsidy.

The public is encouraged to take advantage of the toll free, 24-hour hot line (0800-000-085) to inform health authorities about suspected SARS cases or quarantine violators.

To help medical institutions more efficiently test the SARS virus, Twu yesterday revealed that the DOH expects to receive the test kits offered by the WHO on May 10.

Twu also called on the public to wear appropriate masks to ward off the SARS virus.

"While regular masks such as active carbon ones are sufficient for the general public, health-care personnel caring for SARS patients should wear surgical masks," Twu said.

As the Armed Forces Sungshan Hospital in Taipei City has been designated as the nation's first hospital treating only SARS patients, Twu yesterday said that the Sungchong Hospital in Taipei County will become the second one next Saturday.

Since the outbreak of SARS, the number of people visiting Hong Kong and Macau has seen a 90 percent decrease as of yesterday, according to Jeff Yang (楊家駿), director of the Mainland Affairs Council's Department of Legal Affairs.

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