Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan declared SARS-free as last patients cleared

AFP , TAIPEI

The Center for Disease Control announced yesterday that Taiwan has been cleared of SARS infections after the last two people who had contact with the only SARS patient were removed from a watchlist.

The two -- the wife and father of the patient, a military laboratory researcher -- were taken off the watchlist after spending two weeks without displaying symptoms of SARS, the center said.

"It is safe to say that Taiwan is now cleared of SARS, but we will continue to monitor the situation for one more week," said the center's deputy director, Shih Wen-yi (施文儀).

He said Taiwan would be officially declared SARS-free on Dec. 31.

The patient, a 44-year-old army lieutenant colonel surnamed Chan, was expected to be discharged from the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital "soon," possibly before Dec. 31, Shih said.

"Chan has not had a fever for eight straight days nor has he displayed other signs of pneumonia," he said.

Chan is believed to have caught the virus while cleaning a contaminated transporter at the Institute of Preventive Medicine of the National Defense Medical Center on Dec. 6.

He had developed a fever the day he returned from a Dec. 7 to Dec. 10 trip to Singapore where he attended a seminar with five colleagues.

Chan was confirmed a SARS victim on Dec. 17, in the first such case since Taiwan was declared SARS-free by the World Health Organization five months ago.

In Taiwan, 34 people who had had close contact with him, including family members, colleagues and people who had sat near him on the plane, were asked to monitor themselves for fever, an early symptom of SARS.

Singapore authorities also placed 74 people under quarantine. The orders were lifted on Dec. 20 after nobody was diagnosed with SARS in the city-state.

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