Wed, May 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Battle against SARS heats up

CHECK The government wants to control the spread of the disease by having people take their temperatures twice a day starting from Sunday

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

Two security guards at Taipei's Mackay Memorial Hospital yesterday take a woman's temperature before she enters the hospital complex. According to an opinion poll, almost 80 percent of the respondents agree with the government's idea of launching a 10-day ``national temperature-taking program'' starting this Sunday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

In order to fight the outbreak of the disease, the Cabinet's SARS Control and Relief Committee (SARS 防治及紓困委員會) has announced that the government will launch a "national temperature-taking program" starting this weekend, Chinese-language media reported yesterday.

According to Department of Health Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the 10-day program will begin this Sunday.

Under the voluntary program, members of the public will be encouraged to take their own temperatures twice a day, as well as to remind their associates and acquaintances to do so.

Chen said that department's latest survey, conducted on Monday, showed that 82.8 percent of the 1,093 valid respondents already have a clinical thermometer at home and that 53.5 percent of the respondents take their temperatures at least twice a day.

As many as 77.9 percent of the respondents said that they would support the government's new policy.

"The spread of SARS is under effective control at present," Chen said.

"The program is a health protection measure that further promotes family values, community mutual help, public hygiene and social morals," he added.

The standard procedure for taking one's temperature can be downloaded from the health department's Web site at http://www.doh.gov.tw.

The department will also distribute the information by placing flyers at gas stations and convenience stores nationwide.

According to the Executive Yuan Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), the program was worked out by the Cabinet after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) told Premier Yu Shyi-kun in a teleconference Monday that temperature-taking should be an urgent task in the fight against SARS.

After the teleconference, Yu asked the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, the Council of Labor Affairs, the Veterans Affairs Commission and the Central Personnel Administration to set up the temperature-taking program.

The Cabinet also urged people to call five relatives and friends a day to remind them to take their temperatures, and to substitute the greeting "How are you?" with "Did you take your temperature today?"

Taking the temperatures of students and workers will be easy, but it will be harder to take the temperatures of those who do not visit public places every day. The spokesman said that these people constitute a loophole in the efforts to detect SARS, of which fever is a major symptom.

In response to the program, the Ministry of Education said yesterday that the nation's schools and students will strictly abide by the policy, and that the ministry will require all schools to take their students' temperatures more often.

The ministry also announced that school officials will have to take the temperatures of junior high school students who are scheduled to take the basic proficiency tests and senior high school students who are scheduled to take the joint college examinations.

Those students with a temperature of 38?C and above will not be allowed to take the tests, and will be sent to medical institutions.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to cooperate with the program.

The city will soon deliver 2 million flyers to local residents in an effort to encourage them to check their temperatures.

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