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DOH urges public ‘alert, not panic’ on enterovirus outbreak

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Department of Health (DOH) chief Lin Fang-yue yesterday urged the public "not to panic, but to keep alert" on the latest outbreak of enterovirus cases in Taiwan. He also suggested that people dial "1922" hotline when they need assistance or advice.

There is also a full list of more than 60 larger medical organizations on the DOH's Web site that are charged with the special mission of treating children infected with the virus, Lin said.

Responding to the call of lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for him to step down, Lin said that all medical workers as well as the public should continue working hard to bring the outbreak under control quickly.

The latest enterovirus outbreak has claimed the lives of eight young children so far this year in the worst enterovirus epidemic since 1998 when the disease caused 78 deaths.

When people run into difficulties or setbacks, they should all work harder to meet the challenges and overcome the problems instead of quitting, said Lin, who served as superintendent of the National Taiwan University Hospital before taking up the current job last month.

Lin also clarified that the network of the medical institutions on the island possess adequate facilities to take care of the young patients.

Kuo Hsu-sung, director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH said parents and school teachers should maintain high alert on the symptoms of the children and bring them to hospitals as early as possible because timing is extremely critical to help the fight the virus.

The CDC reported 42 new and confirmed severe enterovirus to bring the total cases to 245 islandwide.

More than 50 elementary schools and kindergartens in Taipei County have decided to conclude the current academic term tomorrow to start the summer recess instead of the original schedule of June 30.

CDC officials have given notice to supplementary schools, also known as cram schools, to heighten vigilance against infection of children attending their schools during the summer vacation.

Schools that conceal information about enterovirus cases or refuse to temporarily suspend courses if two students were infected will face fines up to NT$300,000, the officials said.

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