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Talk of the Day -- Taiwan not H7N9-infected area
Central News Agency
2013-04-25 10:36 PM
Taiwan is not an H7N9-infected area even after it confirmed an imported case of human infection of the deadly avian flu strain on Wednesday, according to a local medical professional. "Our country will be listed as a place with an H7N9 case imported from China, but will not be identified as an H7N9-infected region," said Huang Kao-pin, director of the Taichung-based China Medical University Hospital's division of pediatric infectious diseases. Taiwan will be seen as an H7N9-infected area only if the virus is detected in locally raised poultry or other birds or in local people with no overseas travel history, Huang was quoted as saying in a local media report. Meanwhile, Chang Feng-yee, director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Department of Health (DOH), said Thursday the infection of a 53-year-old man with the H7N9 virus after his return from China did not mean there was anything wrong with Taiwan's epidemic control and prevention network. Given Taiwan's geographic proximity to China's H7N9-affected Yangtze River Delta and the frequent civilian exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan was bound to report an H7N9 case sooner or later, he said. "What is most important is whether we have epidemic control measures in place to keep the infection at bay," said Chang, who concurrently heads the Central Epidemic Command Center. He also denied accusations that the CDC had tried to conceal the H7N9 case. The epidemic command center did not brief the public on the case until Thursday evening, but a posting appeared on National Taiwan University's campus PTT online platform at 11:30 a.m. that day, saying Taiwan had a confirmed H7N9 case and that the CDC would host a news conference on the matter in the afternoon. "We never intended to conceal the case. We were dealing with it in a cautious and prudent manner. We broke the news as soon as genetic makeup of the sample under examination was confirmed through DNA sequencing," Chang said. "If we had called a news conference before the final test results came out, we would have had to use the term 'probably' or 'suspected. Such a report would have fueled speculation and sparked panic in the society," he added. As of Thursday noon, China had reported 109 confirmed H7N9 cases, with 23 deaths, according to the CDC data. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the imported H7N9 case in Taiwan: United Daily News: On April 24, 2003, Taiwan's government announced the closure of Taipei City Hospital Heping Branch over an outbreak of China-originating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) among its medical staff. On the same day a decade later, the country confirmed an H7N9 case imported from China. Chang said the first imported H7N9 case involved a 53-year-old businessman who had often shuttled between Taiwan and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, one of the seven H7N9-infected Chinese destinations. The man last visited Suzhou March 28-April 9 and did not falling ill until three days after his return. "The case indicates that an H7N9-infected individual could pass airport fever screening due to the absence of flu symptoms in the virus's incubation period," Chang said. Moreover, Chang said, the patient had tested negative in two previous RT-PCR tests with his sputum samples before testing positive for H7N9 infection through nucleic acid testing on Wednesday morning. "We further verified the infection through DNA sequencing and confirmed the case after sequencing data became available in the evening," Chang added. The case betrayed that the infection may show no symptoms in the disease incubation period, Chang said, adding that local hospitals and clinics should be more proactive in reporting suspected cases. (April 25, 2013). United Evening News: Huang Li-min, head of National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital's division of pediatric infectious diseases, quoted the World Health Organization as saying that H7N9 is one of the most lethal flu viruses. "Therefore, those who are infected with the virus should take the anti-flu drug Tamiflu as early as possible," Huang said. Taiwan's first H7N9 patient did not take Tamiflu until the fourth day of falling ill. "If he had taken the drug within 48 hours, his condition would have been much better," Huang said. The patient is receiving treatment, including intubation and ECMO therapy, in a negative pressure quarantine ward at NTU Hospital. Deputy Health Minister Lin Tzou-yien said the DOH will require medical institutions to include RT-PCR tests for respiratory disease patients whose conditions do not improve after initial treatment in order to more effectively diagnose H7N9 infection. Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji said a ban on slaughter of live poultry at traditional markets will take effect in Taipei and Taichung from Friday. The ban will also be implemented in other cities and counties from May 17 to prevent spread of any avian flu viruses, Chen said. Only a few remote rural townships and outlying islands will be exempt from the ban, he added. Amid growing bird flu concerns, poultry meat prices have dropped significantly over the past week and sales have shed an estimated 30 percent, market sources said. (April 25, 2013). (By Sofia Wu)
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