Mon, May 12, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Crisis center inititives go into action

COMMAND, CONTROLThe Executive Yuan's team to keep the contagion at bay will regularly update statistics and help organize relief and response work

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan will launch a national SARS prevention command center under its ad hoc SARS response committee today, in order to better integrate the nation's SARS prevention mechanisms and resources.

The Cabinet is also scheduled to hold an emergency meeting today to approve the NT$50 billion budget earmarked to subsidize SARS-related medical expenses and mitigate the economic impact on local industries.

According to Department of Health Deputy Director Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰), the command center will be headed by the department's former director-general Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) and situated in the basement of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

"While we'll be publicly updating SARS statistics and the implementation of prevention measures every two hours, the Cabinet's SARS committee will be announcing new government initiatives designed to combat SARS," Lee said.

The establishment of the center reportedly has a lot to do with the criticism made by two World Health Organization experts. They have chastised the nation's SARS prevention mechanisms for being disorderly and that the SARS-related information for being ineffectively shared and transmitted.

According to Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳), the government set up a SARS-response committee on March 28, 14 days after the nation's first suspected SARS case was reported.

After the legislature passed the special regulation, the Cabinet changed the moniker of the committee and modified its structure in accordance with the rule.

The committee is co-chaired by Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i (林信義) and Lee Ming-liang.

Lin leads the committee's six task teams including logistics control, economy and industry, laws and budget, foreign affairs, supervision, and information release. Lee Ming-liang heads the committee's three task teams. They are the medical, departure control, home quarantine and national defense resources teams.

A research task force, headed by Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), was launched on Saturday.

As the law stands, a special fund totaling NT$50 billion should be used subsidize SARS-related medical expenses and mitigate the economic impact on local industries. The bill also stipulates that the government must compensate health care workers who give their lives fighting the epidemic.

As of yesterday, a total of 40,039 people were required to be put under the 10-day compulsory home quarantine program, according to Vice Minister of the Interior Hsu Yin-shen (許應深). While 22,933 people are under the program, 17,406 names have been deleted from the list.

Today, the interior ministry will start installing video surveillance systems on the homes of those people under quarantine, the nation's three government-designated venues for the compulsory quarantine program are expected to accommodate 514 people by Wednesday.

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