Taipei Health Department seeks to prevent MERS spread
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.
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.
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.