Taipei Health Depart­ment seeks to pre­vent MERS spread

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY L.J. DIMENSINAL

To pre­vent the spread of MERS, the Taipei Public Health Depart­ment (TPHD) has is­sued guid­ance to the man­age­ment of 488 ho­tel and con­cert venues on how to best meet the needs and health re­quire­ments of re­cently ar­riv­ing South Korean pop stars, said the TPHD yesterday.

De­spite the MERS sit­u­a­tion in South Korea be­com­ing ever more grave, this sum­mer will see Korean stars ar­riv­ing in Tai­wan for meet and greets with fans, cul­mi­nat­ing with con­certs. Should con­trol over the MERS sit­u­a­tion be lost, the gov­ern­ment does not rule out the op­tion of in­ter­ven­ing and re­duc­ing the num­ber of ap­pear­ances and events, the TPHD said.

Those film and mu­sic fans that have been ea­gerly snap­ping up tick­ets have shown lit­tle fear with re­gards to MERS. The di­rec­tor of the TPHD, Hsu Chao-cheng (

), said that the public must act to help pre­vent the spread of the dis­ease and that there is no al­ter­na­tive but to metic­u­lously wash one’s hands, wear face-masks and avoid­ing large gath­er­ings.

Heavy Penal­ties

He stated that ac­cord­ing to dis­ease preven­tion leg­is­la­tion, if a trav­eler ap­pears to demon­strate symp­toms yet fails to in­form author­i­ties they can in­cur a fine of be­tween NT$60,000 to NT$300,000, even if upon test­ing they are cleared of ac­tu­ally hav­ing MERS.

The Di­rec­tor of the Taipei Health Bureau for Dis­ease Con­trol, Chen Shao-qing ( ) ex­pressed that the sum­mer sees the busiest sea­son for Korean stars com­ing to Tai­wan. At present the bureau is al­ready ex­pect­ing five or six Korean groups that are plan­ning on com­ing to Tai­wan. For this rea­son di­rec­tion has been given to Taipei’s 488 hos­pi­tal­ity and travel busi­ness, as well as 360 mem­bers of var­i­ous trade coun­cils. Those work­ing in the tourism in­dus­try should place dis­ease preven­tion leaflets and in­for­ma­tion in prom­i­nent places mak­ing peo­ple aware that should the come down with a fever or any other symp­toms they should call 1922 so that ar­range­ments can be made to take them to a hos­pi­tal, said Chen.

The Health Depart­ment also is­sued in­struc­tions that in all hired venues, there must be Korean-lan­guage ver­sions of dis­ease preven­tion leaflets and in­for­ma­tion, and that these should be avail­able be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the con­certs. The en­trances and ex­its must have hand san­i­tizer as well as masks for those who re­quire them. In ad­di­tion, the air con­di­tion­ing must not re­sells the air in­side of the venue to limit the pos­si­bil­ity that any in­fec­tion will be spread to those in­side, Chen stated.

Chen in­vited the Korean stars to travel to Tai­wan and act in ac­cor­dance to the rel­e­vant dis­ease preven­tion reg­u­la­tions and fol­low all nec­es­sary mea­sures to pre­vent the spread of the dis­ease.

High-risk Groups

Hsu em­pha­sized that at present Tai­wan has still yet to have a recorded in­stance of MERS, how­ever should one present it­self re­duc­ing the num­ber of events that carry a high risk would be prefer­able. As MERS is an air­borne dis­ease, the main thing that the Health Depart­ment can do is to in­crease public aware­ness and make sure that they take the nec­es­sary pre­cau- tions for their own well-be­ing and health. Tourists, busi­ness­peo­ple, those who may have come into con­tact with the in­fected and those who have stayed in a Korean med­i­cal fa­cil­ity are all high-risk groups. These peo­ple once in Tai­wan must mon­i­tor their health for 14 days, said Hsu.

Hsu went on to say that if any­one does ex­hibit symp­toms of the dis­ease they should go to one of the 15 dis­ease pro­tec­tion cen­ters to seek med­i­cal as­sis­tance, they should not go to any of the or­di­nary med­i­cal cen­ters as this could lead to doc­tors miss­ing the ill­ness and it be­ing al­lowed to spread un­hin­dered. If these cen­ters are able to im­me­di­ately re­port back to the Health Depart­ment and have the in­fected in­di­vid­ual taken by am­bu­lance to a suit­able hos­pi­tal this would then help to halt the dis­ease from spread­ing to oth­ers, Hsu said.

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