Addressing online rumors, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, is not known to resemble SARS, although lab tests are needed to clarify what virus is causing the infections.
Yesterday, a rumor spread online that the outbreak in Wuhan was a SARS-like infection, raising public concern.
The CDC announced that effective immediately, all flights into Taiwan from Wuhan would be boarded by CDC officials and inspected before passengers are allowed to leave the aircraft.
CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said these are routine inspections and quarantine measures.
There are 12 flights per week from Wuhan to Taiwan and CDC inspectors would ascertain whether passengers are running a fever, coughing or breathing abnormally, Chou said, adding that passengers exhibiting symptoms would be detained and assessed.
Chou urged people to keep calm, dismiss any news from unverifiable sources and refrain from forwarding any such messages.
The CDC said that people who spread misinformation about diseases or epidemics can be fined up to NT$3 million (US$99,648) under the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), and people who spread misinformation leading to public unrest can be detained for three days or fined up to NT$30,000 under the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法).
While the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has not released an official statement, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
“The statement says there are a total of 27 viral pneumonia cases, including seven with severe complications,” Lo said. “The main symptom in most cases was a fever and some had difficulty breathing. Pneumonia was detected through chest X-rays and they were all hospitalized in quarantined rooms.”
All of the Wuhan cases were linked to a local market, Huanan Seafood City, and two people have recovered and been discharged, Lo said, citing the statement from Wuhan’s health commission.
Fewer than 30 percent of the cases resulted in severe complications and, according to the health commission, there was no sign of human-to-human transmission, Lo said.
“If the health commission’s information is accurate, then there is a low chance that the infection is SARS,” he said.
However, lab tests would be run to identify the virus that caused the outbreak, Lo added.
Additional reporting by Lin Hui-chin
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