Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Quarantined people will be monitored with GPS system

NEW CONTROLS The government has announced strict new measures to make sure people stay home when they are told they have to

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet's severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) response committee yesterday decided to implement synchronized alert devices on all home quarantine individuals of level A to strictly monitor their movements in compliance with the quarantine regulations.

"In a bid to reinforce the control of all the individuals subject to home isolation rules, the government decided to implement the synchronized audiovisual alert devices to monitor that all home quarantines stay in isolation and do not wander around," Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), the Cabinet's spokesperson said yesterday.

Approximately 6,000 home quarantines of level A, namely those having had close contact with SARS-related people in a closed environment like a home or office would be required to be equipped with the portable alert device, employing the global positioning system to simultaneously reflect the users' whereabouts to the government's control center, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Deputy Minister of the MOI Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) yesterday announced that the device, which will be imported from overseas, is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan next Monday.

The implementation of the device is made in light of the lack of manpower to control home quarantine, which was seen as a major hole in the entire SARS prevention mechanism.

The method was made based on Singapore's draconian way to limit the mobility of all home quarantines by forcing them to wear portable alert devices.

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council announced that it would extend the quarantine perion by another 14 days for travelers and aircrew arriving from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Toronto in Canada, Mongolia and Philippines. The quarantine will start May 12. Travelers from these countries will be required to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday added a new travel advisory against the Philippines as the WHO had just listed Manila, as an area with recent transmissions of SARS.

Taiwan nationals are advised not to travel to the Philippines, while the issuance of entry visas for Filipinos is to be temporarily suspended, according to MOFA.

In addition, the Cabinet yesterday also announced a one-year forbearance for loans due by local industries to allow for more room to respond to the possible economic and financial impact of the illness.

Deputy Director of the Department of Health Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) denied a so-called "community transmission" has appeared in Taiwan amid worries that such has been the case in a residential complex on Da-li Street of the old Wan-hua District.

"Since there were only two SARS cases reported in the area, we think it is more likely that the virus was spread through person-to-person contacts," Lee said.

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