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H7N9 more powerful than SARS, warns Taiwanese expert

Publication Date : 27-04-2013


Huang Li-min, chief physician at the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, yesterday said according to Hong Kong's latest research, the fatality rate of H7N9 influenza is higher than SARS.

In the wake of the first confirmed case of H7N9 influenza discovered in Taiwan this week, Huang warned that the fatality rate for the H7N9 virus is more than 10 per cent, which is higher than SARS' 8- to 10-per cent fatality rate. Everyone should be more careful and protect themselves, Huang said.

The patient, who returned to Taiwan from mainland China earlier in April, began feeling unwell on April 12 and was sent to NTUH for treatment on April 20.

The patient was later sent to an intensive care unit and received ECMO therapy. NTUH Deputy Superintendent Chang Shang-chun said the patient is in a serious but stable condition.

Huang said the reason infection rates are higher among people middle aged and older, while lower with children, is because children do not as often go to markets and interact with livestock.

Huang said that upper respiratory symptoms related with the H7N9 virus do not clearly present themselves, therefore the patient may not notice initial symptoms and thus miss out on early treatment.

Hualien bans slaughtering

The Council of Agriculture (COA) announced that a ban on fowl slaughtering will take effect on May 17. Hualien County yesterday banned slaughtering in markets, the first city in Taiwan to enact the practice.

Hualien County official Chang Chih-chao explained that given the discovery of the first confirmed case of H7N9 in Taiwan, the county government decided to immediately implement the practice in the interest of public safety. Chang added that if a vendor continues to slaughter poultry at their stall in Hualien County they will face fines of between NT$20,000 (US$675.82) and NT$100,000.

H7N9 vaccine development

Taiwan's Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said that in the period before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide Taiwan with a vaccine strain for H7N9, the DOH will complete a review of two local medical firms regarding their viability as domestic vaccine developers.

Lin Tzou-yien, deputy director of the DOH, said the US will be able to provide an H7N9 vaccine strain by June at the earliest. In light of this, Taiwan intends to designate two medical firms who will conduct first-stage preparation of vaccine development.

Adimmune Corporation said if the firm receives a vaccine strain at the earliest possible juncture then a vaccine could be available by November at the earliest.

China Labour Day holiday

Given that China is set to hold an extended Labour Day holiday shortly, the Tourism Bureau expects over 5,000 mainland Chinese tourists will come to Taiwan daily during this period.

In wake of the H7N9 outbreak, Tourism Bureau official Yang Yung-sheng said the bureau has informed travel agencies in Taiwan to educate Chinese tourists about washing hands more often as well as reporting any suspected infection cases to a nearby hospital as well as government officials.



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