Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Premier invites a former health boss to join in the fight

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday extended an invitation to former Director General of the Department of Health Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) to serve as vice convener of the Cabinet's SARS Response Committee, Cabinet Spokesperson Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

"The Premier has expressed his wish to invite Lee to take the leading role in the committee as Lee's professional medical background, administrative experiences, and good relations with the private sector would help integrate the public and private resources in the course of fighting against SARS," Lin said in a press briefing yesterday following the meeting of the Cabinet's SARS committee.

Lin quoted the premier as saying that Lee's extensive medical administrative experience and well-recognized social reputation would help effectively organize the national epidemic control mechanism.

"The premier wants Lee to take the leading role in the area of integrating the cross-departmental medical system and epidemic control efforts," Lin said.

In terms of future epidemic preventive measures, Lin said four hospitals in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan respectively will be designated to treat SARS patients only.

The Taipei Armed Forces Sungshan Hospital (台北松山醫院) and Taipei County Sanchung Hospital (縣立三重醫院) had been selected as two SARS hospitals in northern Taiwan, and would be activated by the end of this week.

Tomorrow, the DOH will begin to prepare the supplementary medical SARS combat workforce by training 123 doctors and 369 nurses in a bid to strengthen overall medical manpower.

While many people placed under home quarantines have been found violating their quarantine orders, the premier urged members of the public to uphold their civic responsibility and strictly follow all of the required quarantine measures.

As to the extent the SARS outbreak is affecting the economy, Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥), vice chairwoman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, said that if the disease could be contained by the end of June, Taiwan's economic growth rate would slip by 0.5 percent -- less than that shown in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Meanwhile, DOH deputy director Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) yesterday remained tightlipped when asked by reporters about the whereabouts of the two WHO epidemiologists who are currently in the country to evaluate the outbreak and assist with its control. Local media have been extremely curious about the pair.

Lee said that the WHO officials would give a press briefing before they leave Taiwan but added that information would be released only to the foreign press, not the local press.

As of yesterday, 791 SARS-related cases had been reported nation-wide, with 125 are probable cases, 213 suspected cases, and the remaining being described as pending cases.

The death toll has reached 11, with nine of those related to the infections at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital and Jen Chi Hospital.

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