Sat, Jan 11, 2014 - Page 4 News List

MAC issues yellow alert for Beijing after Canadian dies

Staff writer, with CNA

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a “yellow” travel alert for Beijing on Thursday, one day after Canada announced that a traveler who had returned from Beijing died of H5N1 avian flu.

In its travel warning, the second-highest on the Centers for Disease Control’s three-color coded scale, the council said people who must travel to Beijing should avoid direct contact with birds or poultry.

The alert also advised travelers to wash their hands frequently, wear a surgical mask, refrain from feeding wild birds — including pigeons — and refrain from eating uncooked meat or eggs.

If travelers develop a fever and cough, they should immediately see a doctor upon their return to Taiwan, the council said.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose said at a press conference on Wednesday that the patient who died had begun feeling ill during a Dec. 27 flight home from Beijing to Alberta Province, experiencing a fever and headache.

Admitted to hospital on Jan. 1, the patient’s symptoms deteriorated leading to their death two days later.

A Canadian microbiology laboratory identified the H5N1 virus overnight from a specimen taken before the patient’s death.

The virus is contracted directly from birds, mainly poultry, Ambrose said, adding that 60 percent of cases have been fatal. However, she stressed that this was an isolated case and that “there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission,” she said.

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