Fri, May 09, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taipei's Mayor Ma misses call for home quarantine


After a photographer assigned to take pictures of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) daily activities was reported a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) case, pending identification last night, the Department of Health (DOH) and Taipei City Government have had divided opinions on whether Ma should be quarantined at home for 14 days as the regulations require.

DOH Deputy Director-General Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) said Ma should be isolated since he has had close contact with the photographer, Chinese-language newspapers reported yesterday.

But at the city government's press conference on the SARS outbreak yesterday morning, Taipei City Bureau of Health Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) specifically explained that, "Mayor Ma does not need to be quarantined."

Chiu said according to the investigation report Ma only had "level B" contact and does not have to be isolated.

But, she stressed, the mayor must wear a protective mask and have his temperature taken every day for a period of 14 days or until it has been proven that the photographer is free of SARS.

Chiu said Ma and the photographer have not shared a car or exchanged conversations without wearing their masks, which is why the mayor has been categorized in the "level B" contact grouping.

A total of eight people, including the photographer's family members and colleagues in the same office, should adopt the "level A" home-quarantine measure, Chiu said.

The photographer, surnamed Kao, was sent to hospital on Wednesday morning with a fever and his temperature dropped to 36.1?C yesterday morning, with no abnormalities detected in a chest X-ray and blood test, the report said.

To be on the safe side, the hospital has put him on the SARS reported list and placed him in an isolation ward for observation.

SARS contact levels

* Level A: Close contact with people in a closed environment like a home or office

* Level B: No close contact with people and wearing a protective mask at all times

In view of the SARS outbreak, Premier Yu Shyi-kun has instructed that government chiefs and their deputies, including the president and vice president, should work separately to ensure the government will keep operating if one of them became infected with SARS.

Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) responded that the Cabinet's standard operating procedure will be respected, but the Presidential Office has also mapped out a contingency plan with the National Security Council to ensure the safety of the nation's leaders.

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