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Airlines told not to refuse fevered fliers

Publication Date : 07-04-2013


Airlines have been advised not to prevent Taiwanese citizens or travelers from China who show signs of fever from boarding flights in China, the Central Epidemic Command Center for H7N9 influenza announced yesterday.

Chang Feng-yih, director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suggested airlines sterilise their aircraft frequently.

The Department of Health (DOH) also said yesterday that, after investigating 14 possible cases, no incidents of H7N9 have been found in Taiwan.

Yang Bo-wen, of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), said that the ministry has already notified airlines to use disinfectant on aircraft that fly between China and Taiwan.

“The MOTC also suggested airlines avoid using poultry products from China in the meals served onboard,” said Yang.

Chang said that unless people planning to visit China will be in areas with confirmed cases of H7N9, or may come into contact with infected patients or birds, there is no need to take Tamiflu — an antiviral drug — in advance.

One suspicious case ruled out

CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hau said yesterday that one Taiwanese man with a fever was found to be infected with H3N2 influenza and not the H7N9 strain.

Chou said the 27-year-old man spent four days in Jiangsu province, one of the areas from which H7N9 cases have been reported, and arrived back in Taiwan via the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday morning.

“So far all the reported suspicious cases have come from hospitals and airports,” Chou said, “and if travellers coming from Jiangsu, Anhui, Shanghai and Zhejiang display signs of fever, they are required to be transferred to hospitals for further quarantine.”

The CDC said it has confirmed with mainland authorities that 16 H7N9 cases have been reported in China, with six fatalities among them, Chou said.

Preparation for epidemic prevention

Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta yesterday visited hospitals listed as disease control centres to review the epidemic-prevention measures being taken against H7N9.

Chiu said that there are 22 hospitals nationwide listed as disease control centres, with 471 isolation wards available to handle a possible outbreak of H7N9. Another 17 hospitals are ready to offer support if necessary.

“(If) Taiwan enters the H7N9 influenza warning period, all the listed hospitals will have to complete the training and drills for medical personnel and follow the guidance of the commander in charge of the area,” Chiu said.

In related news, EVA Airways, one of two major international airlines based in Taiwan, yesterday kicked off an anti-H7N9 programme for flights between Taiwan and Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.

Under the programme, the company uses disinfectant spray to clean the passenger seats, armrests, luggage compartments, toilets and aisles of every plane from those locations arriving at Taoyuan airport.

Also yesterday, officials from New Taipei City's Animal Protection Office conducted inspection tours of livestock farms in Sanxia, Tucheng, Shulin and Tamsui districts, reminding operators to carry out thorough sanitization operations. The office also sent staff to sterilise livestock markets in the four districts.

The city will also move to disinfect all of its 38 livestock markets on Monday and Tuesday, and will conduct inspection tours of the markets throughout April to monitor the sanitation of the markets.

In addition, the Yunlin County Government yesterday moved to enhance sterilization operations at livestock farms in Huwei and surrounding areas to guard against H7N9.


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