Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the city government will form a special task force to oversee enforcement of home quarantines as part of its stepped-up efforts to contain the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
"As the fight against SARS has now entered the phase of community prevention, we must tighten enforcement of quarantine orders," Ma said at a news conference.
The special task force will be composed of officials from the Bureau of Health, police and the civil affairs and environmental protection departments, Ma said, adding that quarantine breakers will be punished in accordance with the law.
To avoid confusions, Ma said, the duration of home quarantine for both those who return from overseas SARS-affected areas and those who have come into close contact with suspected SARS carriers will be 14 days from now on.
Previously, those who returned from SARS-affected areas were subject to a 10-day home confinement.
Ma said a female janitor at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital who died from SARS over the weekend will be enshrined at Yuanshan Martyr's shrine and her family will receive the highest level compensation. The treatment will be the same as that for Chen Ching-chiu (陳靜秋), a chief nurse at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital who succumbed to SARS last Thursday, he added.
Noting that the battle against SARS is the medical equivalent of a war, Ma said all hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and other workers who sacrifice their lives in caring for SARS patients, deserve the highest level of respect and compensation.
During this critical moment in the campaign against SARS, Ma said, individuals who come down with fever should not take medicine on their own.
"They should pick up the phone and dial 119 for help. The emergency relief department will then send an ambulance to take them to officially designated hospitals for treatment to prevent any possible spread of the disease," he said.
Bureau of Health Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said two newly reported cases involved toddlers aged two and four.
"Both cases were related to the Hoping hospital. They are now in stable condition," Chiu said.