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Homeland Security

Alert level up as 1st case of domestic infection confirmed (roundup)

ROC Central News Agency

2009.05.25 23:52:03

By Sofia Wu

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The Central Epidemics Command Center (CECC) raised the country's swine flu alert level Monday after the first case of domestic infection was confirmed.

The first case of domestic infection, which is the seventh confirmed case in Taiwan, involves a 40-year-old woman who is a friend of the fourth confirmed swine flu patient in Taiwan and who had had contact with the victim, said CECC spokesman Shih Wen-yi.

With the emergence of a domestic infection for the first time, the country's epidemic alert has been upgraded to the third stage of yellow, which denotes a situation in which imported cases have already caused a second wave of infections, Shih elaborated.

Nevertheless, he continued, local people should not panic over the emergence of a single domestically contracted case, as it has not developed into a cluster of community infections.

On Monday, two more imported cases were also confirmed, bringing the total number of infected patients in Taiwan to nine, Shih added.

The two newly confirmed imported cases involved two students who both returned from San Francisco May 23 via EVA Airways flight BR007, according to Shih.

Meanwhile, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yeh Ching-chuan said earlier in the day that he has changed his mind and that he would no longer be accompanying President Ma Ying-jeou on a Central America diplomatic tour but would instead remain in Taiwan to oversee epidemic prevention work amid the present swine flu outbreak.

Despite the emergence of an indigenous case, local people should not overreact because the situation can be brought under control immediately, Yeh said.

However, he went on, he will not travel abroad with Ma at this critical juncture. Ma is scheduled to leave Taipei Tuesday on a nine-day diplomatic tour that will take him to three of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America -- Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador. Yeh was originally listed as a member of Ma's entourage, but once the CECC confirmed the first domestically infected case of swine flu, Yeh said he informed the National Security Council of his intention to stay at home and help deal with the situation.

Yeh said he also directed his deputy, Sung Yen-jen, who is currently visiting Europe, to travel directly to the United States and join Ma's entourage during transit in Los Angeles on the way to Belize.

To date, nine swine flu cases have been confirmed in Taiwan, all but one of which were contracted abroad.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, 46 countries have officially reported 12,515 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 91 deaths, according to the latest World Health Organization report.

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