Taiwan issues phase 2 warning after 1st swine flu case confirmed
By Deborah Kuo, CNA
May 20, 2009, 4:49 pm TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Central Epidemics Command Center (CECC) issued a phase 2, or yellow, alert Wednesday after the first case of swine flu, formally known as influenza A(H1NI) , was confirmed in Taiwan.
The center raised the pandemic alert level in Taiwan from the previous phase 1, or green, alert after a 52-year-old Australian man, who had flu symptoms when he arrived in Taiwan May 18 from the United States via Hong Kong, was confirmed as having the flu.
Center spokesman Shih Wen-yi said Vice Premier Chiu Cheng-hsiung will preside over a supra-ministry meeting later in the day to discuss the response to the situation.
The center urged Taiwan's people not to panic over the imported flu case, saying that the influenza A(H1N1) virus has a low fatality rate and that Taiwan's medical and epidemic prevention capabilities are strong enough to keep the disease at bay.
The 52-year-old Australian doctor, who is based in Taitung but has reportedly worked aboard cruise liners over the past two months, was discovered to have a fever of 38.3 degrees Celsius at a quarantine station upon arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Monday.
The doctor was taken by ambulance to the nearby Taoyuan General Hospital and was put under quarantine and observation, said Shih, who is also a deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control, at a news conference held earlier in the day.
After testing and double checking the doctor's samples, a CDC lab confirmed around 4 a.m. Wednesday that he was infected with influenza A(H1N1), Shih said.
According to the center, the man boarded Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX831 from New York May 17 to Hong Kong, where he transited to Taiwan on flight CX468 and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Monday night.
Currently, the man is in good condition and being observed in a negative pressure isolation room at Taoyuan General Hospital, the center said.
He began to feel uncomfortable with flu symptoms while flying between New York and Hong Kong, Shih said.
Shih added that a total of 57 passengers aboard CX468 who sat three rows in front and behind the foreign man were all located by 10 a.m. Wednesday and were told to contact the CDC.
According to CECC regulations, these 57 passengers should take anti-flu medicine, stay at home and wear face masks over the next several days as preventive measures.