Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Airports step up anti-avian influenza quarantine strategy

AP , TAIPEI

The government tightened measures yesterday at airports to prevent a outbreak of bird flu if it is brought into the country by travelers from Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Visitors from infected nations would be forced to undergo tests if they arrive with bird flu symptoms such as fever, coughing and throat pain, Taiwan's Center for Disease Control said.

If travelers develop the symptoms within 10 days after arriving, they should wear a surgical mask and go to the hospital immediately, the CDC added.

Health officials also told Taiwanese traveling to Thailand and Vietnam to stay away from poultry. But if they come into contact with poultry or its excrement, they should wash their hands with soap immediately, a statement on the CDC Web site said.

So far, Taiwan has not been affected by the latest bird flu outbreaks in Southeast Asia, CDC head Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) told reporters.

But last year, Taiwan was hit hard by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The disease, which struck neighboring China and a number of other countries in Asia, infected 346 people in Taiwan, of whom 37 died.

During the SARS outbreak, countries throughout the region introduced screening at airports to check passengers arriving from affected nations for signs of the highly contagious virus.

Thailand on Tuesday reported its first case of probable human-to-human transmission of the virus, while Vietnam confirmed a new bird flu death -- a 14-month-old baby -- yesterday. The illness has killed at least 30 in Asia.

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