Wed, Dec 10, 2014 - Page 3 News List

CDC widens availability of free influenza treatments

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Amid rising numbers of respiratory infections nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday made government-funded antiviral agents targeting influenza viruses available to people with a fever lasting longer than 48 hours and whose families, colleagues or classmates have been infected with a flu-like virus.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) announced the new policy — which took effect on Monday last week and is to be valid until Mar. 31 — at the agency’s regular news conference in Taipei yesterday afternoon.

Prior to the new rule, nine categories of people were eligible for the treatments, which include Relenza and Tamiflu: severe complicated influenza cases; pregnant women; influenza patients with dangerous symptoms; people with major illnesses, immunodeficiency or chronic diseases; overweight people; clustered cases of flu infections; people diagnosed with novel influenza A virus infection; people at high risk of influenza A virus infection or who have had close contact with infected individuals; and people hired to cull animals infected with influenza.

People who are not included in the eligible list typically pay about NT$1,000 for a five-day prescription of Tamiflu.

“According to the centers’ surveillance statistics, a total of 51 severe, complicated influenza cases have been reported between Aug. 1 and Monday, with 14 being fatal,” Chuang said.

Chuang said the nation’s peak influenza period generally falls between the end of this month and March, and that the numbers of flu cases in Japan, northern China, the US and Canada have also been climbing.

He urged people who experience typical respiratory infection symptoms, including shortness of breath, blood sputum, thickened phlegm or a fever lasting longer than 48 hours, to wear a facial mask and seek medical attention.

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