Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Headquarters hit by quarantines

DEFENSE Three branches of the armed forces have decided to err on the side of caution and quarantine those who have been near suspected SARS carriers


The general headquarters of two branches of the armed services have quarantined part of their offices and staff due to suspected exposure to the SARS virus, military officials said yesterday.

The quarantined staff include several major generals who are departmental chiefs at the army headquarters and a navy vice admiral who is responsible for discipline in the service.

In addition, the air force has put under quarantine several fighter pilots at a Taichung base after they were found to have patronized a local KTV parlor the same night that a suspected SARS carrier was there.

The General Headquarters of the Army, in Taoyuan, claims the highest number of quarantined people -- ? more than 100 -- since the staff of three departments are involved.

The quarantine was implemented when the wife of a lieutenant colonel at the headquarters was found to have been in contact with a friend who worked at the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

Because of this, all the colonel's colleagues in his department have been placed under quarantine, as have staff at two other departments which he had visited frequently.

In the navy's case, a vice admiral has been quarantined in his office because of a subordinate who was found to have been exposed to the SARS virus during an inspection trip to eastern Taiwan.

The subordinate, a captain, took the trip to find out whether there were discipline problems in a fleet based in that part of the country.

One of the naval personnel that the captain had been in contact with during the trip was later found to be a suspected SARS victim.

Back in Taipei, the captain reported his findings to his chief, the vice admiral responsible for discipline in the service.

After the suspected SARS case in eastern Taiwan was reported to the navy's general headquarters, all the personnel who had been in contact with the captain -- including the vice admiral -- ?had to be quarantined.

The air force has not enforced any quarantine at its headquarters, but has done so at a Taichung air base, which is home to the IDF planes.

An unidentified number of IDF pilots have been quarantined at their base after they were found to have eaten and drunk at a local KTV parlor on the same night as a suspected SARS carrier visited the place.

There is no evidence to show that these pilots had close contact with the suspected carrier, but the air force decided to err on the side of caution and quarantined these pilots to protect the safety of others.

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