H7N9 halts some cross-strait business conferences, travel

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Following the first confirmed case of an H7N9 carrier's entry into Taiwan, business organisations on both sides of the strait have begun warning against unnecessary travel to and from the outbreak zone of Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said that it has dispatched an emergency alert to the Taiwan Compatriot Investments Enterprises Association of Suzhou to raise awareness among Taiwanese businesspeople of the influenza outbreak. The SEF is advising Taiwanese businesspeople in China to stay away from live bird markets and take precautionary measures.

Due to the concentration of Taiwan technology businesses operating in the area, and the high volume of travel between the regions, it is vital to increase awareness advocacy efforts in the area, the SEF said. Contraction of the virus has been most concentrated in the southern regions of Jiangsu province.

According to reports, businesses are beginning to take precautionary measures, adopting videoconferencing to avoid unnecessary travel to outbreak zones. Amid uncertainty concerning the severity of the outbreak, Andestech, a Hsinchu-based system-on-a-chip solution (SoC) developer, yesterday indicated that it has cancelled schedule conferences in Suzhou for the safety of its personnel.

The H7N9 carrier, a 53-year-old Taiwanese national who had been working in Suzhou, has tested positive for the virus, according to Central Epidemic Command Center of Taiwan (CECC). At present, the carrier is in critical condition, and quarantined in a negative-pressure environment at an undisclosed medical facility, according to reports. According to the CECC, the carrier earlier stated that he had neither came into contact with live birds nor had he consumed undercooked eggs or poultry during his stay in Jiangsu.