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Taiwan disease simulation system publicly unveiled

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan has become the third country in the world to publicly unveil a disease simulation system capable of predicting the spread of influenza, Academia Sinica said in a statement.

The refined computer system, presented in the international online journal “PLoS One” earlier this month, represents an upgrade of other slower systems previously developed around the world, said Wang Da-wei, a medical informatics specialist with Academia Sinica's Institute of Information Science.

Wang said the new system adapted a revised computing algorithm to an updated database containing population and transportation data and public health statistics provided by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), enabling it to run 1,000 times faster than other simulators in existence and generate more precise results.

The system has a wide range of applications because it can simulate the outcomes of different quarantine policies, the specialist added.

Though the system was only publicly unveiled this month, it had been researched since 2007 and was tested during the outbreak of swine flu (influenza A H1N1) in Taiwan late last year.

CDC deputy director-general Lin Ting said the simulator concluded that with appropriate airport inspection and quarantine measures, the peak date of infection could be postponed by 22 days, a result that served as an important reference to the Department of Health (DOH) in developing disease control and intervention policies at that time.

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