MERS a na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue: pres­i­dent

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY YUAN-MING CHIAO

Pres­i­dent Ma Ying- jeou con­vened a meet­ing of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Fri­day to heighten the na­tion’s alert level and threat re­sponse in light of the spread of the Mid­dle East Re­s­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome (MERS) out­break in South Korea. He de­manded that rel­e­vant de­part­ments and min­istries, in­clud­ing health, ed­u­ca­tion, diplo­matic and trans­porta­tion au­thor­i­ties step up ef­forts to pre­vent an out­break in Tai­wan.

The top- level meet­ing, “Re­spond­ing to the MERS epi­demic” was at­tended by Pre­mier Mao Chi-kuo ( ), who led of­fi­cials from the Min­istry of Health and Wel­fare, the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, the In­te­rior Min­istry, the Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Agency, the Na­tional Po­lice Agency, the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the Civil Aero­nau­tics Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Tourism Bureau, the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, the Main­land Af­fairs Coun­cil, the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Coun­cil and the Coast Guard Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to brief­ings by min­istries and de­part­ments, Ma out­lined four re­sponse mea­sures, in­clud­ing strength­en­ing health checks at the na­tion’s ports of en­try. The Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol has al­ready placed on “alert” sta­tus cit­i­zens who are trav­el­ing to Seoul, South Korea. Sim­i­larly, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs has in­creased its alert level for Seoul, South Korea to a “yel­low alert.”

Se­condly, the pres­i­dent called for more re­sources to be made avail­able for de­part­ments in dis­ease pre­ven­tion, and to build from ear­lier ex­pe­ri­ences com­bat­ing SARS and H1N1. Thirdly, Ma urged the Ex­ec­u­tive Yuan to strengthen in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion on com­bat­ing MERS, us­ing ex­ist­ing plat­forms to in­crease Tai­wan’s role in pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance. Fi­nally, he said that knowl­edge would be the best de­fense against the virus and that all rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment agen­cies needed heighten to their sen­si­tiv­ity to en­sure the health and safety of all on the is­land.

Pre­ven­tion Drills En­gaged Lo­cally

Mean­while, cities through­out the is­land ini­ti­ated drills and pre- ven­tion meth­ods to re­spond to a po­ten­tial out­break of MERS. In Chi­ayi City, the fire depart­ment prac­ticed res­cue and med­i­cal quar­an­tine pro­ce­dures equipped with N95 sur­gi­cal masks and other virus-block­ing garb.

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wenje ( ) stated yes­ter­day that the key to pre­vent­ing a spread of MERS was ac­cu­rately re­port­ing con­di­tions, with­out hid­ing ev­i­dence of po­ten­tial cases. Fire depart­ment of­fi­cials in Taipei City said they were pre­pared for a po­ten­tial out­break re­sponse, and said re­sponse per­son­nel have been equipped with a to­tal of 548 N95 sur­gi­cal masks, 1,761 wa­ter­proof suits, and 607 Level-C protective suits.

Health of­fi­cials urged peo­ple who have fevers of over 38 de­grees centi­grade and coughs within 14 days of trav­el­ing (to ar­eas in the Mid­dle East and Seoul, South Korea) to proac­tively re­port their con­di­tions to med­i­cal au­thor­i­ties.

More in­for­ma­tion: The gov­ern­ment has set up a 24-hour, toll­free hot­line for those who have con­cerns about MERS. Please dial: 1922

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