Taiwan initiates prevention methods over MERS fears

Taiwan initiates prevention methods over MERS fears

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Government agencies are actively preparing MERS prevention drills and disease control measures in case infection hits the nation, as the deadly respiratory illness spread rapidly in South Korea recently, according to the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control.

Within a couple of days, MERS has caused four deaths in South Korea, and the number of patients is soaring week by week. The contagious virus seemed to be getting out of control, casting panic and fear in neighbouring countries. On June 5, President Ma Ying-jeou ordered that several prevention measures be put into action, demanding proactive responses be made at once at both central and local levels.

The Fire Bureau of Hsinchu City listed off preparations on response measures yesterday, making Hsinchu among the first cities to do so along with Taichung, Taipei, and New Taipei City, storing N95 surgical masks, gloves, Level-C protective suits and waterproof suits. Officials continue to remind citizens to proactively and accurately report any MERS symptoms, especially those having travelled to South Korea, China or the Middle East in the past 14 days.

Pamphlets Distributed to Flight Passengers from June 4

Regarding control and monitoring at the nation's ports of entry, the CDC has planned to distribute MERS Health Advice pamphlets to all passengers on flights arriving in Taiwan from South Korea, said CDC officials.

The first batch of 220,000 pamphlets was published and sent to the Civil Aeronautics Administration for distribution to airline companies, officials said. So far, both China Airlines and EVA Air have received the pamphlets and started to distribute them to passengers on flights arriving from South Korea, officials said.

On June 5, South Korean health officials announced four more MERS cases, making at least 41 diagnoses so far, including four deaths. Index, secondary and tertiary infections have been confirmed.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between September 2012 and June 3, 2015, a total of 1,179 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS, including 442 deaths, have been confirmed. Thus far, MERS has been reported in 25 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. Currently, the CDC has issued a Level 2 Alert for travel to Saudi Arabia and the Greater Seoul area, which consists of Seoul, Incheon and the Gyeonggi region.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chiang Been-huang visited the designated hospitals and inspected how hospitals conduct the "On-site MERS-CoV Patient Management Drill." In addition, Chiang also instructed the other five designated hospitals in Taiwan and three other designated hospitals on the offshore islands to be prepared for managing potential MERS cases.

For more information, please visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw, or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922 (or 0800-001922).

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