Medical experts urged the public to take precautions against respiratory illnesses and to avoid overindulging to prevent a spike in medical emergencies during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Local hospitals reported 265,000 emergency room visits during last year’s Lunar New Year holiday, including 39,000 COVID-19 cases, 19,000 cases of digestive disorders, and 16,000 cases involving unexplained fever, headaches, vertigo and other symptoms, National Health Insurance Administration senior specialist Lai Yan-chuang (賴彥壯) said.
While high, the figure likely underrepresented the number of people who fell ill due to the traditional belief that it is inauspicious to go to a hospital during the holiday, he said.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times
Emergency room visits surged to 748.3 million in the week after last year’s Lunar New Year holiday, including 1.01 million respiratory cases, 366,000 blood pressure cases and 358,000 diabetes cases, Lai said.
These conditions were the top three causes of emergency room visits after the holiday in the past five years, he said.
Complaints related to respiratory diseases including COVID-19 have perennially been among the top 10 reasons for post-Lunar New Year emergency room visits, Lai said, urging the public to wash their hands, use masks and avoid crowded places.
People with chronic illnesses must not forget to take their prescription medicines, avoid holiday foods that are high in fat, calories and purine, and maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) has said that the JN.1 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has become the main strain spreading across the nation and infections could surge after the holiday.
Respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, the flu and adenovirus infections, are the predominant cases in emergency rooms these days, Taiwan Society of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine secretary-general Seak Chen-june (薛承君) said on Thursday.
The declining use of masks, an influx of Taiwanese visiting from abroad and an immunity debt incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to blame for the surge in respiratory cases, he said.
People should avoid dipping their chopsticks into other people’s bowls or plates during social gatherings, as well as use serving utensils to avoid cross-contamination, he said.
People should know their limits when drinking and avoid driving if they have had alcohol, he said.
Head trauma is also one of the top 10 reasons for emergency room visits during the Lunar New Year holiday, Seak said.
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