Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Beware hidden threats, Yeh warns

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yeh Chin-chuan, former director of Taipei's Bureau of Health, addresses reporters at a press conference yesterday. Yeh said that one single SARS patient, known as Ms Tsao, is likely the ``super spreader'' at the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

If Taiwan's hospitals want to keep SARS outside their walls, they had better watch out for a Trojan Horse.

That was the warning yesterday from Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), former director of the Taipei City Bureau of Health, who said that the potentially fatal disease can take advantage of weaknesses in a hospital's defenses.

"In the past few weeks we have seen that SARS can often hide under another disease. Sometimes a patient can have SARS together with another major health problem and the hospital would overlook the possibility of the patient having contracted SARS.

"Both Chung-hsin Hospital and Jen Chi Hospital suffered from this," Yeh said.

"Every patient that has a fever should be deemed as a possible SARS patient. Do not be lenient with any fever case," he warned.

Yeh himself had been placed under quarantine, which ended just two days ago. He held a press conference at Taipei City Hall yesterday to tell the media about his observations of the work going on at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

Besides warning about Trojan horses, Yeh said that hospitals with SARS patients should divide the buildings into different sections to ensure that people from different areas would not mingle and increase the danger of cross-infection within the hospital.

Yeh also suggested that SARS emergency cases should be treated outside the hospitals.

In response to Yeh's proposals, the Taipei City Government said that it had already started to establish fever-checking stations in places other than hospitals as a service for people who think they might have SARS.

So far there are already 11 such stations, with four more stations set up within hospital emergency departments. The ones within the hospitals all have a separate area to see and treat patients. Taipei plans to have a total of 21 stations.

Yeh also gave reporters his best-case-scenario prognosis of how the war against SARS would progress.

"If there are no nasty surprises, I hope that the outbreak will subside by the end of May and we can fully control the situation by the end of June."

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