The private who became the military's first suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been placed in quarantine once again, even though he has been cleared of having the virus.
The Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday that the private, surnamed Liu, has begun a 14-day quarantine period at the Armed Forces Hualien Hospital's Taitung branch where he works.
According to a ministry press release issued yesterday, Liu was released from Mackay Memorial Hospital's Taitung branch around 8:50pm Thursday, after doctors determined he was no longer coughing or running a fever.
Liu's lung X-rays also showed that his lungs were normal.
"Since Liu was determined to have the flu instead of SARS, we hereby announced that there is no suspected case of SARS in the military. However, we will still ask Liu to be quarantined at where he works for the next 14 days," the press release said.
When defense ministry officials were asked to explain yesterday why Liu needed to be quarantined even though he had been cleared by the Department of Health (DOH) of having SARS and released by his doctor, they would only say that it was standard operating procedure for suspected SARS cases.
Dr. Kuo Li-kuo (
Since Liu had visited Taipei's Wanhua District -- where Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital is located, during a long-weekend holiday from April 25 to April 29 -- the National Defense Medical Bureau decided to list him as a suspected SARS case and put him in quarantine.
However, the bureau did not make Liu's case public until May 6, five days after it had listed him as a suspected case.
On Monday, Liu began to recover from his fever and cough and on Thursday the DOH confirmed that Liu's illness was not SARS, so Kuo decided to release him from the hospital.
All military personnel who had been in contact with Liu before he fell ill were put into 14-day quarantine at the Taitung branch hospital. They will finish their quarantine period next Wednesday.
According to the National Defense Medical Bureau, 87 military personnel are currently under home quarantine and another 55 are quarantined at their bases.
The quarantine periods for all of them will be completed next week.