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CDC denies spread of H7N9 to hospital staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾病管制署) yesterday denied that three medical staff who were in close contact with a mainland Chinese patient with the H7N9 strain of influenza had also been infected with the dangerous avian flu.

Although the three hospital staff contracted several symptoms of the flu, test results for the H7N9 virus came back negative. Besides the three staffers, others came into contact with the patient, including his two daughters and a tour guide. Tests of those individuals were also negative, according to the CDC.

In addition, doctors also asked 55 other people who had contact with the patient to take Tamiflu (克流感) to prevent infection. They were also asked to carry out health management procedures for 14 days.

The CDC also pointed out that the H7N9 patient had paid most of the cost of his medical care in Taiwan in accordance with a new regulation announced last April. Based on the new rule, all foreigners infected with the H7N9 avian flu in Taiwan are to be quarantined. During the quarantine process, the CDC will partially cover expenses including the cost of a hospital stay, meals, inspections and anti-viral medicines, with patients paying the rest.

Deputy Director-General of the CDC Chou Chih-hau (周志浩), stated that the disease prevention team studied the movements of the patient to investigate the possibility that others had been infected, and found that 500 people had experienced temporary contact with the patient, who traveled to many tourist attractions in Taiwan. Chou said there were six individuals who showed some symptoms, and three of them have already recovered. If other people display flu symptoms, they should wear masks and go to the hospital immediately, said Chou.

Cabinet Strengthens Laws To Avoid Transmissible Animal Diseases

The Executive Yuan yesterday passed two amendments to the Transmissible Animal Disease Prevention and Control Act (動物傳染病防條例) to strengthen the systems responsible for limiting the spread of contagious diseases from animals.

Chen Bao-ji (陳保基), minister of the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) said that the amendments will reinforce an existing notification system connecting relevant health authorities and will enable the COA to better cooperate with the Ministry of Health and Welfare in dealing with diseases like avian flu in the future.

Chang Su-san (張淑賢), the director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ, 動植物防疫檢疫局), added that avian flu is categorized as a grade B disease as it has a low pathogenicity. BAPHIQ originally only dealt with grade B transmissible animal diseases when necessary; however, certain diseases transmitted by animals are lethal to human beings, H7N9 among them. The change would enable BAPHIQ to better deal with grade B transmissible diseases.

“This (proposed amendment) will enable authorities to deal with transmissible diseases more effectively,” stated Chang.

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