Fears that a traveler infected with the Ebola virus had entered the country turned out to be unfounded, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
“The patient is a 45-year-old Nigerian woman who arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Oct. 2, from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on a business trip,” CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) told a press conference in Taipei.
Chou said the woman started developing a fever, headache and joint pains on Wednesday and sought medical care at a hospital in northern Taiwan the next day.
As the patient came from an Ebola-affected country, the hospital immediately put her in isolation before collecting blood samples and throat swabs for testing, which were found to be negative at about 1am yesterday, Chou said.
“Given the patient had not recently visited a hospital or had direct contact with wild animals, and none of her family or close acquaintances had any suspicious symptoms, the centers is able to rule out Ebola,” Chou said.
Chou added the patient’s symptoms have abated, and that a malaria test has also come back as negative.
Chou said US-based Northeastern University researcher Alessandro Vespignani and his colleague Marcelo Ferreira da Costa Gomes have estimated the chance of Ebola spreading to Taiwan in the following three weeks at less than 1 percent, based on the flight records between the nation and Ebola-affected countries.
“Also, the average number of people traveling to Taiwan from the three West African nations that have born the brunt of the Ebola outbreak — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — stands at 120 per year on average, compared with 150 per day to the US,” Chou said.
The centers urged people planning to visit countries affected by the deadly Ebola outbreak to avoid going to local hospitals or having physical contact with infected patients.
“They are advised to monitor their own health and take their temperatures twice a day for 21 days following their return to Taiwan, and call the centers’ disease prevention hotline if they observe any worrisome symptoms,” Chou said.
WHO statistics show that as of Wednesday, a total of 8,032 Ebola cases have been reported, which include 3,924 in Liberia, 2,789 in Sierra Leone, 1,298 in Guinea, 20 in Nigeria and one in Senegal. Approximately 3,877 people have been killed by the virus.
In response to the rapid spread of the disease, the CDC set up an emergency task force on Aug. 8. It has also issued a level 3 warning against travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as a level 2 alert for Nigeria.
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