Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Task forces set to multiply as SARS measures continue

CNA , TAIPEI

The SARS Control and Relief Committee said yesterday it will form three new task forces in an all-out campaign to contain the spread of SARS.

A contingency expert panel will focus on taking emergency steps to cope with SARS outbreaks inside medical facilities and prevent them from spilling over to other locations, said Su Yi-jen (蘇益仁), director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and a member of the SARS-relief committee.

Members of the contingency task force will include Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), a former Taipei municipal health bureau chief who had volunteered to help handle the SARS outbreak in the sealed Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital in April, and experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Su said.

Noting that 98 percent of the 344 probable SARS cases tallied so far have been related to hospital cluster infections, Su said the relief committee will give priority to warding off such outbreaks.

To attain this goal, he said, the committee will commission the National Health Research Institute to train seed instructors to help local hospitals prevent and control cluster infections.

Meanwhile, Su said, a prevention panel will be formed to help hospitals in several SARS-free areas, such as Tainan and Chiayi counties, to reinforce precautionary measures against the virus.

A local transmission control panel will help with public health education, Su said, adding that the panel will launch a publicity campaign to urge citizens to follow basic hygiene rules, including washing hands frequently and wearing surgical masks in proper settings.

The panel will also mobilize grassroots administrative systems to help oversee SARS outbreak reporting and home quarantine enforcement to prevent the disease from spreading into residential communities at large, Su added.

Meanwhile, a student from National Chiayi University died of SARS yesterday, making her the first student to die of the disease in this country.

She was also the first probable SARS case in Yunlin County to die. Authorities from Yunlin Hospital said she died of respiratory failure.

Doctors at Yunlin Hospital said they had no idea how or where Chang could have contracted the disease or who may have had close contact with her while she was infectious.

Chang checked into the hospital's emergency room May 30 complaining of a fever over the previous three days.

Yunlin Hospital doctors are investigating Chang's activities prior to being hospitalized since she apparently had never been to SARS-affected areas and she had no contact with SARS patients.

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