Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Vietnam ponders ban on flights

NATIONAL DEFENSE Having already dealt with the wave of SARS infections that started with one man, the Vietnamese want to make sure it doesn't happen again


Vietnamese authorities are considering a proposal to suspend flights from Taiwan after a Vietnamese worker died of SARS in Taipei, state-run media reported yesterday.

The recommendation by Vietnam's Ministry of Health comes just a month after the country -- one of the early focal points of SARS -- was declared SARS-free by the World Health Organization.

Health authorities will be closely watching passengers arriving from Taiwan for 10 days for symptoms of SARS the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

The recommendation came a week after a Vietnamese overseas worker died of SARS in Taiwan, Tien Phong newspaper reported.

Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has yet to ban labor emigration to Taiwan, but recommends that labor export companies do not send workers to SARS-afflicted areas, the Lao Dong newspaper reported.

There are currently around 40,000 Vietnamese workers Taiwan.

Vietnam reported one of the first cases of the virus that became known as SARS at the beginning of March.

In all, 68 people were infected, and five died.

In related news, deputy Taipei Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said yesterday that temperature-taking counters will be opened at public places around the city in support of the Cabinet's campaign against SARS.

In tandem with a 10-day national temperature-taking campaign to be launched Sunday, Ou said, the city government will set up temperature-taking stations at various municipal agencies, 344 public schools, 67 public marketplaces, 449 borough warden offices, 220 contract drug stores, 110 mass rapid transit system stations, four taxi cab rest stops, 81 gas stations and 342 temples and churches around the city.

Ou said that specially designed temperature-recording cards will be distributed at all the new service counters for citizens to take their temperature daily.

"Those who register a temperature of higher than 38 degrees Celsius should dial 119 for transport to one of the 22 fever screening centers at various Taipei municipal hospitals for observation and treatment, " Ou said.

About 4.6 percent of probable SARS cases tallied in Taipei were first detected at one of those fever screening centers.

With the opening of a large number of temperature-taking stations, Ou said, the city government hopes that local business or social groups can donate thermometers to help meet the demand.

Ou made the appeal at a ceremony marking the donation by various social and business groups of a batch of medical supplies, including protective gowns, N95 surgical masks, emergency life-saving systems and vitamins.

Quoting recent tallies, Ou said the SARS outbreak is gradually waning in the city.

Nevertheless, he said, continued vigilance is required to stem the further spread of the potentially fatal disease.

"Hospital administrators must step up control of cluster infections inside their complexes, and ordinary citizens should take their temperature twice a day," he urged.

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