A 27-year-old pregnant nurse from Taipei's Jen Chi Hospital, which was sealed off last month, died of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) late Wednesday night.
Hu Kuei-fang (胡貴芳), who was 35-weeks pregnant, died with her unborn baby in Mackay Memorial Hospital in Tamshui, becoming the first pregnant woman to die of SARS in Taiwan.
She was also the second medical worker here to die of SARS. Head nurse Chen Ching-chiu (陳靜秋) of the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital passed away last Thursday.
According to the Jen Chi hospital authorities, Hu had been on duty at the facility before the privately-run hospital located in Wanhua District was cordoned off on April 27 due to a mass transmission of SARS.
The Mackay hospital at one point decided to perform a Caesarean operation on her in an attempt to save the unborn baby, but the operation was not carried out as Hu's family opposed it.
Hu's husband, a Taipei City traffic policeman surnamed Hsu, could hardly accept the fact of her death and said they were supposed to celebrate their second wedding anniversary in four days time.
In deep mourning for Hu, Hsu cried yesterday saying "I only wished to see her for a last time, but I wasn't allowed to do so as I was in quarantine."
"The doctors could see her wearing appropriate quarantine outfits, why couldn't I do the same?" he said.
"I didn't care if I had to stay in quarantine for longer, as long as I could see her again," he said.
Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed condolences to Hu's families, and delivered an initial compensation payment of NT$3 million to her family.
"Any personnel dying of anti-SARS efforts will be given the maximum compensation and be enshrined at the Taipei Martyrs Shrine," Ma said yesterday.
Two more medical workers who contracted SARS, Dr. Lin Chung-wei (林重威) and a senior nurse surnamed Liu from Hoping Hospital, were still in critical condition at the Cathay General Hospital and are currently receiving incubation treatment.
The 28-year-old Lin, who had just become a resident at the hospital in March, tended to SARS patients in the hospital before feeling ill and developing SARS-related symptoms, including a fever, on April 20.
Chairman of Cathay Hospital Chen Kai-mo (陳楷模) yesterday criticized the Taipei City Bureau of Health for being indifferent to the doctor suffering seriously from SARS.
"The city's health officials had never paid any visits to Dr. Lin since he had been admitted to the hospital on April 29.
"Do the city officials just want to wait until Lin dies to send their regards?" Chen said.
In response to Chen's complaints of indifference on the part of city health officials, director of Taipei City's Bureau of Health Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) admitted the mistake by saying "the health authority had not made enough efforts and would continue to make improvements."
Meanwhile, the Hoping Hospital, which has been sealed off for more than two weeks, yesterday removed its last three remaining patients.
It would be closed today to undergo disinfection before becoming a special designated SARS hospital.
Ma yesterday announced all the city's hospitals had to set up a checkpoint outside the hospital's emergency unit to determine if incoming patients had fevers or not, and if the fever could be threatening.
Ma demanded that the fever checkpoints should be operational by Monday.