Sun, Feb 09, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Outbreak: Officials elaborate on CECC warning

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A Google map prepared by the Central Epidemic Command Center on Friday shows places visited by tourists from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Photo copied by Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday evening sent a disease prevention warning message to all mobile phone users in the nation to be cautious and monitor themselves for fever or respiratory symptoms for two weeks if they had on Friday last week been at places in Taipei and New Taipei City visited by passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Japan yesterday said that 64 people on the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The ship was put under 14-day quarantine in Yokohama, Japan, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the disease.

The cruise liner stopped in Keelung on Friday last week.

The warning message included a link to a map with more than 40 locations that the passengers visited between 6am and 5:30pm that day.

People should be cautious, but not be too worried, because the risk of infection is slight, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said, adding that 218 people who had direct contact with the passengers have been placed under home quarantine.

However, as there were thousands of passengers on the ship and other people might have had direct contact with them, the message was sent to raise public awareness, said Chen, who heads the center.

People who were at the locations and experience symptoms should immediately seek medical treatment, he said.

Centers for Disease Control Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that as coronaviruses spread mainly through respiratory droplets, people who were within 2m of an infected person for about 15 minutes have a higher risk of infection.

The risk of infection when wearing a mask or in an open environment is very low, so people should not be too worried, Chou said.

Separately, some taxi dispatchers near Kaohsiung Harbor expressed concern that the CECC had not traced the movements within Kaohsiung of passengers from the MS Westerdam, which was docked there on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thirty-eight of the 1,500 passengers were denied entry after they were found to have fevers, the CECC said.

One driver surnamed Kuo (郭) yesterday said that all taxi drivers who took fares from foreigners on those two days should monitor their health and immediately seek medical assistance if they have a fever.

Additional reporting by Hung Ting-hung

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