Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Second department store closes after SARS scare

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Takashimaya Department Store (大葉高島屋) in Tienmu district yesterday closed its doors for four days to disinfect the facility, taking precautionary measures against SARS after a saleswoman was diagnosed as coronavirus-positive.

"After learning late on Friday that the saleswoman may have developed SARS, we immediately decided to close the doors on Saturday to avoid possible transmission among weekend shoppers," the store's vice president, Wei Chih-hsiung (魏志雄), said yesterday.

The store's customer traffic can reach 30,000 people per day on weekends, Wei said.

Wei added that the department store will open on Wednesday and, starting from today, disinfection of the building and X-ray checkups for over 2,000 employees will be performed to assure shoppers of a virus-free shopping environment.

According to Wei, the saleswoman who worked at a Tako-ball (章魚燒) stand in the store's basement, has been on sick leave since May 11. Her family only informed the department store on Friday night -- five days later -- that she may have developed different symptoms.

According to Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director of Taipei's Bureau of Health, the saleswoman, surnamed Lin, checked into Taipei Municipal Jen Ai Hospital (仁愛醫院) on Tuesday and developed SARS-like symptoms.

Chiu yesterday urged the store's shoppers who might have been in close contact with the saleswoman before May 10 to be on the alert for possible transmission that may have taken place.

Lin, however, hasn't been confirmed as a SARS patient as of press time last night. No other infections were reported within the department store, according to Wei.

Despite that, Takashimaya decided to shut down its store for four days until Tuesday -- 10 days after the saleswoman's last work day at the store. Wei added that the four-day closure may cost the store up to NT$70 million in revenue.

Wei yesterday insisted that the department store has been financially stable and should be able to tide itself over during the time of forced closure.

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