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Taoyuan airport starts drills to counter Ebola

TAIPEI--The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will perform an exercise at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport designed to intercept the arrival of travelers suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus, a senior CDC official said Tuesday.

The agency's emergency response task force, set up specifically to handle a possible Ebola outbreak, was set to conduct the drill the following day, CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw said.

The drill will include taking suspected Ebola-infected travelers to local hospitals, as well as measures to produce printed materials at short notice for distribution to hospitals and clinics warning the public of the Ebola threat, according to the CDC.

Chou said his agency will continue to distribute information on prevention of the spread of Ebola infection to inbound travelers from virus-affected areas of West Africa, and will keep in touch with a liaison window set up under the International Health Regulations and get first-hand quarantine data released by the World Health Organization and other countries.

As of Aug. 9, the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria have reported 1,848 Ebola infection cases, including 1,013 deaths, Chou said, adding that the fatality rate has reached 55 percent.

Although only around 1,200 people travel to Taiwan from West Africa each year, around 82,400 people travel between China and Africa as a whole each month, he went on.

In addition, more than 10,000 people from China, the Philippines and India are now working and living in West Africa, Chou said, describing these travelers, workers and immigrants as a potential risk of bringing Ebola into Taiwan.

The official also noted that various countries, including Greece, Benin, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda and Romania have reported suspected cases of Ebola and are examining samples. Meanwhile, suspected cases in Canada, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have tested negative for the disease, he said.

According to Chou, the CDC has launched a third-degree travel alert, coded “Warning,” for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, advising people to avoid going to the three nations unless absolutely necessary, while giving a second-degree alert for Liberia, suggesting that people traveling to that country take precautions and avoid contacting people who are possibly infected.

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