Premier Yu Shyi-kun convened an emergency meeting in Kaohsiung City yesterday to keep the central government abreast of the SARS situation in seven jurisdictions in southern Taiwan.
Yu ordered seven counties and cities in the south to work together in fighting the disease.
He said that the military would be involved, if necessary, to assist with the management of isolation areas, sanitation and SARS waste disposal.
"When imposing quarantines, public authority should not be challenged," Yu said at the meeting.
Yu encouraged residents to report any quarantine violations, adding a NT$10,000 reward would be available for each case.
Yu's action in the south was in part prompted by the spread of SARS at Kaohsiung's Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, where some probable SARS cases were hospitalized late last month.
As of yesterday, SARS fears at the hospital have promoted the isolation of 57 physicians and several residents who visited the facility.
A widespread disinfection effort at Chang Gung was under way yesterday.
Yesterday morning, patients and staff on three floors of a building at the hospital were evacuated for the disinfection campaign.
A probable SARS case, Mrs. Lin, was placed in a regular ward on the 11th floor of the hospital, which she shared with another patient, Mrs. Pan. Pan's four relatives, who visited her late last month, began to show SARS symptoms on Saturday.
A dentist surnamed Chen, who has died of SARS, stayed on the 12th floor from April 25 to May 2.
Hospital Superintendent Chen Chao-long (
"We don't think the infection would be spread inside the hospital because most known sources of infection are from other counties and cities," Chen said.
The hospital yesterday also limited the entry of visitors to some areas near the three floors.
More than 10 patients with SARS symptoms and a probable SARS case are under treatment at Chang Gung.
Local officials said yesterday that they had tried to trace all patients and their friends and relatives who visited the hospital recently in order to monitor the situation.
Health officials said that the deceased dentist, surnamed Chen, visited local clinics before being hospitalized at Chang Gung. The possible source of his infection remains unclear. Chen's family, however, said the hospital was the source.
Health officials said that a probable SARS patient, a 63-year-old security guard surnamed Lee from Kaohsiung County, died on May 8 at Chang Gung. Lee's driver has been in quarantine since May 9.