- (AFP) -- Taiwan reported another surge in SARS cases,
but the government insisted new measures to control the spread of the disease
were working and the epidemic would soon be brought under control.
- The 55 new cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
follow a record 65 cases Thursday. The island has recorded over 300 infections
in the past week and is currently battling the fastest growing outbreak
in the world.
- The latest figures took the island's total to 538 infections
and 60 deaths, but there are a further 1,000 suspected cases of killer
- Health officials played down the latest figures, saying
they were the result of more effective screening of people who were already
sick following a major shake-up in the island's anti-SARS efforts last
- Li Ming-liang, who heads Taiwan's anti-SARS taskforce,
said Friday the crisis in the southern part of the island had now peaked,
and he urged members of the public not to be alarmed by the outbreak.
- "Situations have stabilized in the south and there
is no reason to panic," Li told reporters.
- Special medical units had been set up to examine and
observe people suffering from fever, instead of sending them directly to
hospitals where they could be exposed to the SARS virus, Li said.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had both accepted that
Taiwan has now put in place more stringent measures for dealing with SARS,
- The WHO earlier this week issued a new travel advisory
warning against unnecessary travel to all parts of Taiwan because of the
deteriorating situation. An earlier WHO advisory had only affected the
- Hospitals have borne the brunt of the outbreak on the
island, but Taiwan Center for Disease Control director Su Ih-jen said medical
staff now accounted for four percent of new infections compared with 30
- Su attributed the improvement to growing public awareness,
tougher control measures and greater medical knowledge gained from bitter
experience fighting against the virus.
- Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, the worst
hit medical center in southern Taiwan with 13 deaths, said Friday the spread
of SARS inside the facility had been controlled.
- It would resume outpatient and emergency services next
Thursday after a two-week suspension if no further SARS cases emerged,
a spokesman said.
- The WHO and US CDC have sent staff to Taiwan to help
contain the outbreak.
- One of the CDC specialists, Chesley Richards, was feared
to have contracted the disease after developing SARS symptoms and was sent
home Friday by a charter plane dispatched by the United States.
- China, which earlier this week again successfully blocked
Taiwan from obtaining observer status at the WHO, Friday offered the island
a donation of 200,000 protective gowns, 100,000 N-95 masks and five ambulances
designed to transport SARS patients.
- Taiwan had yet to respond to the offer.
- Japan was scheduled to send a three-member medical team
Monday to help Taiwan contain SARS, Foreign Minister Eugene Chien said.
- Taiwan's parliament meanwhile approved Friday a 50 billion
Taiwan dollar (1.43 billion US) package to help relieve individuals and
enterprises suffering from the epidemic.
- The government has been under fire for inefficiency and
lack of coordination during its SARS battle and last week it replaced the
two top health officials.
- Authorities here have also started investigating alleged
delays, cover-ups and other irregularities at hospitals which are believed
to have contributed to the spread of the virus.
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