Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Yu visits Kaohsiung County officials for SARS-virus update

CNA , TAIPEI

Premier Yu Shyi-kun led a group of government officials on a visit to the Kaohsiung county government in Fengshan yesterday to learn about the status of the SARS outbreak there at first hand.

He presented a batch of protective clothes and masks to County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) and was briefed by Yang on the SARS case count in Kaohsiung, most of which have been at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Meanwhile, Tan Kai-yuan (譚開元), director of the Medical Affairs Bureau under the Department of Health (DOH), who accompanied Yu on the tour, gave Yang a briefing about the government's plan to convert 11 hospitals around the country into hospitals exclusively responsible for the treatment of SARS patients.

Tan said the 11 hospitals include five military hospitals, four hospitals under the DOH, one county-run hospital and one city-run hospital.

These facilities will treat SARS patients referred to them by preliminary medical units and decide which patients should be treated at the nation's medical centers.

However, Tan said, the plans to convert seven of the 11 hospitals have run up against opposition from nearby residents.

Tan called on local governments to help quell the opposition to facilitate the conversions.

Another member of Yu's entourage, Chang Sheng-yuan (張聖原), who is the director of the Military Medical Bureau under the Ministry of National Defense, told Yang the Pingtung Military Hospital will be converted into a SARS hospital by June after the installation of an isolation ward.

Training for military medical personnel in treating SARS is under way, Chang went on.

Vice Minister of National Defense Chen Chao-ming (陳肇敏) told Yang the armed forces has turned eight military barracks into quarantine camps for people who might have come into contact with the SARS virus and has provided another three barracks to accommodate vagrants who have been rounded up as possible SARS virus carriers.

Environmental Protection Administration chief Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who was also a member of the entourage, assured Yang that the waste from the proposed SARS hospitals will be carefully treated.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's chief delegate to the WTO said yesterday that Taiwan still has a long way to go in its bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO), but added that the country's bids for membership have gained more support and sympathy from other countries.

Taiwan's Permanent Repres-entative to the WTO, Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), said that Beijing's obstruction has caused Taiwan a lot of difficulty in its bids to enter the WTO and China's WHO bid will also encounter more difficulties.

Noting that Taiwan must work with other countries in its efforts to become a WHO member, Yen said that through his contacts with other WTO delegates, he has a feeling that Taiwan's predicament has gained more support and sympathy.

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