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5 China provinces, 2 cities listed in Level-2 travel alert

TAIPEI--Taiwan issued a Level-2 travel advisory for five Chinese provinces and two metropolitan areas yesterday after confirming a day earlier the first H7N9 bird flu case reported locally but contracted in China.

The Central Epidemic Command Center announced the listing of the five provinces — Jiangsu, Henan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Shandong — and two cities — Shanghai and Beijing — in its Level-2 travel alert after an inter-ministerial meeting.

“We referred to the three-level travel advisory system used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when deciding to issue a Level-2 advisory for the seven destinations,” said Chang Feng-yee, head of the epidemic command center.

Under the system, a Level-1 advisory urges those who are bound for listed destinations to exercise vigilance and take health precautions, while a Level-2 alert calls for would-be travelers to maintain a high degree of caution and take strengthened protective measures, especially when they visit certain high-risk places. A Level-3 alert warns against travel to listed destinations.

“As all seven of the listed destinations have reported confirmed H7N9 cases, local people planning to travel there should pay close attention to their personal health and hygiene,” said Chang, who is also director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Department of Health.

The first imported H7N9 case in Taiwan involved a 53-year-old Taiwanese businessman operating in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.

The man fell ill with symptoms of fever and fatigue three days after his return from Suzhou April 9, according to Chang.

The patient went to a clinic, where he was treated for high fever April 16, and later transferred to a hospital for emergency treatment.

On April 20, he was transferred to National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital in Taipei for treatment in a quarantine ward.

NTU Hospital said in a press statement Thursday that the patient has been given treatment, including intubation and ECMO therapy.

The hospital further said that none of its medical personnel have shown flu symptoms.

CDC Deputy Director General Chou Jih-haw said earlier in the day that the patient was in “serious but stable” condition following treatment.

Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center said three hospital staff members who had come into contact with the patient and had shown respiratory symptoms had tested negative for H7N9 after taking the anti-flu drug Tamiflu.

Another three medical personnel who did not take proper protective measures while treating the patient are subject to strict monitoring until April 27, even though none of them have shown any flu symptoms, the center said.

As of April 24, China had reported 108 confirmed H7N9 cases, with 23 deaths, according to a news update posted on the CDC website.

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