The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday it has received 20 reports of suspect severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) cases.
Six of the 20 cases matched the World Health Organization's definition of "probable cases" of SARS, said Chen Tsai-ching (陳再晉), CDC director-general.
The CDC is in the process of checking whether another three of the 20 could be listed as suspect SARS cases, Chen said.
The CDC has confirmed 11 out of the 20 were not suspect SARS cases, according to Chen.
Chen said that before the WHO pinpoints the virus that causes SARS, all cases can only be listed as "probable" or "suspected" cases.
On Friday, a Vietnam-based US diplomat chartered a flight to send his son to Taiwan for SARS treatment.
Chen said the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), where the child was admitted to, did not report any new developments of the boy's illness yesterday.
Nevertheless, Chen said the child's symptoms did not fully match the WHO's definition of suspected SARS cases because his fever has not been higher than 38?C since his arrival at Taiwan.
The boy was referred to NTUH with the help of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
In an interview with the Central News Agency on Friday, Douglas Paal, AIT's Taipei office director, said the SARS outbreak has given Taiwan a rallying point regarding observer rights in the upcoming World Health Assembly.
According to CNA, Paal said Taiwan has done well in handling the SARS cases that have occurred in the past few weeks, in contrast with China's behavior. This will be an argument for Taiwan's participation, Paal said.
After the SARS outbreak, two officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were dispatched to Taiwan to help study the cause of the disease.
According to CNA, Paal said the US officials highly approved of the CDC's handling of the SARS outbreak.
Meanwhile, Chen said in order to prevent the spread of SARS, schools or institutions where suspect SARS cases are reported can decide on their own to impose "quarantine vacation" of up to seven days.
Besides, the Department of Health reiterated yesterday it showed no favoritism in dealing with SARS treatments for the US diplomat's child and China-based Taiwanese businessmen.
Department Director-General Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) called earlier this week for China-based Taiwanese businessmen infected with SARS to be treated in local hospitals.
When the US diplomat's child was flown to Taiwan, some local media reported that the department had set double standards in giving SARS treatment to foreigners and Taiwanese businessmen.
The health department issued a statement yesterday saying it has convened a meeting on March 18 to discuss how to transport suspected SARS cases to Taiwan.
According to the statement, suspected SARS cases can be sent to Taiwan if quarantine measures during the transporting process are properly taken.
The statement said the suspected SARS cases' nationality "makes no difference" to the treatment they receive.
The health department still encourages China-based Taiwanese businessmen to stay in local hospitals for treatment, said the statement.
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