Six suspected cases of H7N9 influenza found in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Six suspicious cases of influenza were reported in Taiwan and tested for the H7N9 strain, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced yesterday, adding that four of the cases were not H7N9 and two are still to be confirmed.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hau said on Thursday that six people reported fever symptoms after arriving in Taiwan from China recently. Two of them were infected with the H1N1 influenza, two people had bacterial infections, while diagnoses for two people was yet be confirmed.

Chou said the two people awaiting results - a Taiwanese and a Chinese - had been to Shanghai and Jiangsu province respectively.

 Both areas are considered H7N9- infected areas.

According to the CDC, 20 passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macau were found to have fever symptoms upon arrival at Taiwan's airports on Thursday. These passengers, however, were not coming from infected areas, such as Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu or Zhejiang.

Those 20 people therefore do not need to be quarantined, the CDC said, adding that health officials have told the 20 passengers to keep monitoring their own health conditions.

The CDC confirmed with mainland China that there are 16 H7N9 influenza cases in China.

Six people have died due to the infection, Chou said.

The CDC said one of the patients in China, currently under quarantine, shows such symptoms as a fever and a runny nose.

 The CDC added that health authorities will monitor the reported cases, paying attention to whether the virus can be transmitted between humans.

Chou said in the wake of China's H7N9 influenza outbreak, the H7N9 Central Epidemic Command Center will enhance quarantine activities at airports and seaports for passengers returning from China's infected areas.

Hualien Hospital Conducts Drills

Hualien Hospital, located in Hualien County, will hold an H7N9 influenza drill next week in light of the increasing number of confirmed cases of the virus in China.

Hualien County is a popular destination among Chinese tourists due to its beautiful mountain scenery and coastline.

According to the hospital, the drill will adopt measures taken during a SARS outbreak in Taiwan in 2003, with a focus on evacuation drills in the hospital, adoption of fever screening systems, quarantine controls and medical treatment.

Council of Agriculture Monitors Livestock

Huang Kuo-ching, an official at the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said that in wake of the confirmed H7N9 cases, the bureau has been monitoring poultry, pigs and migratory birds.

Huang said that so far there is no sign of H7N9 infection among livestock, adding that the bureau will keep monitoring the livestock.

The bureau will attend a meeting held by the Central Epidemic Command Center today, and discuss preparatory work for any possible H7N9 outbreak, Huang said.

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