Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 2 News List

H1N1 claims sixth victim, another nine hospitalized

FLU SHOTS Inoculation against swine flu will begin in November, with pregnant women, healthcare workers, schoolchildren and teenagers as the priority recipients

By Shelley Shan and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan reported its sixth A(H1N1) death yesterday, a 10-year-old boy.

The boy was from Taitung County’s Dongshih Township (東勢), said Hsiao Chun-ying (蕭春櫻), acting chief of the county’s health bureau.

He was sent with flu symptoms to the Taichung Veterans General Hospital on Aug. 26 and was diagnosed with swine flu yesterday morning. He developed complications from pneumonia and died later yesterday, Hsiao said.

“We are trying to figure out how he was infected.” he said.

Nine more people were hospitalized yesterday with A(H1N1), bringing the total number to 104, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said.

CDC Director-General Steve Kuo (郭旭崧) said it was difficult to predict when the flu outbreak would reach its peak.

The seasonal flu usually peaks in January, but the outbreak of H1N1 could advance or delay the peak of the flu season, he said.

In preparation for this winter’s flu season, the Department of Health will from next month offer free inoculations against seasonal flu to groups considered at high risk of infection, such as children, the elderly and healthcare workers.

Inoculation against H1N1 will begin in mid-November, with pregnant women, healthcare workers, schoolchildren and teens as the priority recipients, Kuo said.

Kuo said there was no indication that it would be unsafe to receive both flu shots.

In related news, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said it would soon submit a proposal to the Executive Yuan about the possibilities of enlisting the help of TV stations to allow students to continue schooling if swine flu forces schools to shut down completely.

NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said three broadcasting laws — the Cable Television Act (有線電視法), the Broadcasting and Television Act (廣播電視法) and the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) — authorize the government to use TV channels to broadcast crucial information about emergency situations during designated hours.

The government does not have to pay the stations for the service.

The government has used this right during the SARS outbreak and during search and rescue efforts following Typhoon Morakot.

The health department requires schools to close for five days if two or more students in the same class come down with H1N1 within three days of each other.

“But if the disease spreads faster and more schools have to close, then students may need to have class via TV or radio,” Chen said.

The Ministry of Education has suggested the classes could be offered on Taiwan Indigenous TV (原住民電視台), Hakka TV (客家電視台), the Chinese Television System (華視) and the Public Television Service (公視).

The NCC proposed the plan should be expanded to include more terrestrial and cable channels.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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