Dengue fever cases on the rise in Taiwan

Dengue fever cases on the rise in Taiwan
PHOTO: The Straits Times

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday confirmed 617 new cases of dengue fever the largest increase in a single day since the start of this summer's outbreak of the potentially deadly disease.

Since May 1, the number of dengue fever cases has reached 8,677 and 18 people in Taiwan have been confirmed to have died from the disease, according to the CDC.

With 7,660 reported cases, the outbreak has been most severe in Tainan City. Kaohsiung City, with 885 cases, has seen the second highest number. The two cities also recorded the highest case increase in one day, by 530 and 77, respectively.

In other parts of Taiwan, Pingtung has 28 cases; Taoyuan and Taichung each have 18 cases; New Taipei City has 16; Hsinchu has 14; Chiayi has 13; Taipei City has 10; Changhua has three; Keelung, Penghu, Nantou and Kinmen each have two cases; Hualien, Yunlin, Miaoli and Yilan counties each have one case.

It appears that many of the cases, including those in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Chiayi, can trace their origin to Tainan.

While the disease has spread to 20 counties and cities nationwide, up to 98.8 per cent is centred in Southern Taiwan, the CDC said.

Currently, a total of 33 patients are being treated in intensive care units, and there are 18 accumulated deaths relating to dengue fever.

Government Sets Up Rapid Screening in the South

The Ministry of Health and Welfare convened a meeting with the purpose of coordinating medical resources in Tainan and Kaohsiung at the CDC's southern office on Saturday.

The meeting reached the conclusion that starting on Sept. 17, the National Health Insurance Administration will take charge of the rapid-screening procedure for the disease in Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung. The CDC will cover the expenses.

The service is mostly for those aged 60 or older, but patients who have travelled in regions infested with dengue fever, both domestic and abroad, may also use the screening service if further testing is deemed necessary by doctors.

Four hospitals in Kaohsiung and Tainan were chosen as rapid-response centres for dengue fever. Each hospital will allocate additional beds and medical resources in a designated ward.

The CDC said it is now capable of locating new patients quickly, which should stall the infection in the disease's early stages.

Military's Participation

In attempt to curb the spread of the disease, the 10th Army Command's chemical squad launched a disinfection effort in Taichung City. It is a joint effort involving local farmer associations and 12 soldiers participated in the activity.

The task was carried out in eight elementary schools on Saturday so as not to interrupt student attendance.

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