Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Taipei confirms a case of enterovirus

PREVENTIONWith seven people already dead from the virus nationwide, the Health Department announced a set of requirements to improve sanitation in classrooms

By Mo Yan-Chih  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Ronald McDonald raises the hand of a girl during a health promotion at a hospital in Ilan yesterday.

PHOTO: YANG YI-MIN, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei City Government said yesterday it would strengthen its epidemic prevention measures to fight enterovirus after confirming its first serious case this year.

Taipei City’s Health Department demanded municipal elementary schools and nursery schools suspend classes for 10 days if any child was infected with the disease. It also said it would carry out weekly disinfection of all classrooms in elementary and nursery schools for the next four weeks to halt the spread of the virus.

Chiu Wen-hsiang (邱文祥), department commissioner, said the city was enforcing stricter regulations on suspending classes compared with the central government, which asked schools to halt classes for 10 days if two children were found to be infected within a week.

The announcement was issued after the first serious case of entovirus in the city was confirmed, Chiu said.

The department said a five-year-old boy living in Shilin District (士林) was sent to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Wednesday, and the hospital confirmed yesterday that he had a serious enterovirus infection, marking the first serious enterovirus case in the city this year.

Chiu said the boy’s condition had stabilized and that he would be discharged soon.

Meanwhile, the Taipei County Health Bureau yesterday ordered the 29 health offices in the county’s townships and villages to instruct all kindergartens and primary schools to carry out disinfection work on all classrooms tomorrow.

The bureau also told the schools to clean their classrooms on a daily basis, warning that health officials would conduct spot checks to ensure that schools maintain proper sanitation procedures.

The moves were made amid an increasingly serious enterovirus outbreak nationwide. The Department of Health’s Centers for Disease Control said that 191 serious cases had been confirmed to date, with seven fatalities, five of whom were children under five years old.

In Taipei County, 18 suspected enterovirus cases had been reported as of Thursday, with eight later confirmed as serious, the Bureau of Statistics said.

Also yesterday, the bureau banned children under five from entering public indoor play areas. Businesses that violate the ban will be fined between NT$60,000 (US$1,980) and NT$300,000, the bureau said.

Enterovirus enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract. It is the most common cause of aseptic meningitis and can cause serious illness and death, especially in infants and people whose immune systems have been compromised.

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