Mon, May 05, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese man dies in China

FIRST VICTIM The businessman became the first Taiwanese citizen to die of SARS in Guangzhou Province, China, the Straits Exchange Foundation confirmed yesterday

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday confirmed that one China-based Taiwanese businessman had died of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, yesterday in China.

Ho Ming-cheng (何明倉), who ran a small metal plant in Dongguan (東莞) near Guangduong Province -- which is widely believed to be the epicenter of the SARS epidemic -- became the first Taiwanese citizen to succumb to the flu-like disease in China.

"The SEF has sent its condolences to Ho's wife in Dongguang and said that the foundation will assist Ho's family in handling related affairs," read the statement released by the SEF, the quasi-official intermediary body authorized by the government to handle exchanges with China in the absence of official ties.

The SEF said that it had asked the Taiwan Business Association in Dongguang to pay for Ho's medical expenses, which would later be reimbursed by Taiwan's health insurance bureau after a claim was submitted.

Ho, 46, developed a fever shortly after returning to Dongguan on March 28, from a trip to Taiwan to sweep the tombs of his ancestors.

He recovered after treatment, but became ill again on April 10. He first checked into a hospital in Dongguan and was later transferred to Nangang Hospital in Guangzhou, where he was diagnosed as having contracted SARS. Ho had been a chronic sufferer of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

He was the only confirmed SARS case in the Dongguan area -- a stronghold of investors from Taiwan. His plant had just resumed operations on Saturday after a week-long period of quarantine.

Meanwhile, the foundation yesterday dismissed a media report concerning Taiwanese students in Beijing, saying that the content of the report was not correct.

A Chinese-language report on Saturday said that hundreds of Taiwanese students in Beijing University, fearing a SARS outbreak in the city, had expressed a desire for the government to operate a charter flight to bring them back to Taiwan.

"The SEF contacted Taiwanese students in Beijing on Sunday directly and the students did not express a need [for a charter flight service]," the statement said.

"The content of that [particular] report apparently did not match up with the facts."

The SEF, however, added that it has requested Taiwan business associations in various cities in China to offer timely assistance to Taiwanese students in case they need help.

"The foundation has offered SARS prevention tips to Taiwanese students in China through various channels and has informed them of its emergency telephone hotline (2712-9292)," the SEF statement said.

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