Swine flu outbreak expected to stabilize soon: health minister
ROC Central News Agency
By Elizabeth Hsu
Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The outbreak of influenza A(H1N1), commonly known as swine flu, is expected to stabilize soon in Taiwan, and the government is now preparing to prevent an epidemic in autumn/winter season this year, the Department of Health minister said Monday.
Yeh Ching-chuan made the remarks during a briefing of the Legislative Yuan's Committee of Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene. He was invited to address the committee on Taiwan's recent participation in the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, and to describe the government's measures against A(H1N1) flu in Taiwan.
Yeh said he anticipates that the A(H1N1) outbreak in Taiwan will be brought under control by the end of June. He added that he hopes Taiwan could maintain its yellow epidemic alert, which is a second stage warning that reflects the fact that only imported case of swine flu have been confirmed in the country.
But he forecast a second wave of outbreaks in autumn and winter this year, adding that the government is taking contingecy action. It has ordered six tons of Shikimic Acid, a key ingredient in Tamiflu, the primary medication in the treatment of the deadly flu strain, he said.
With the raw ingredients, Taiwan would be able to produce one ton of Tamiflu for use by 1 million people, Yeh said, noting that the government will also procure 10 million doses of vaccine against the A(H1N1) flu.
The government will purchase 2.5 million doses of swine flu vaccine from foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers and will contract local companies to produce the other 7.5 million doses, he said. The vaccination program can get underway in October, if necessary, the minister said.
In addition, the government has purchased 5 million doses of vaccine against seasonal flu -- far more than the 3.2 million doses it bought last year -- for use this autumn and winter, Yeh said.
As of May 21, the global mortality rate resulting from the new strain of swine flu stood at 0.7 percent, he noted. If the deaths in Mexico -- the worse hit country among the 43 that have been affected -- are excluded, the figure drops to 0.1 percent he added.
If a 0.1 percent mortality rate is applied to Taiwan, it means that 20,000 people would die of the flu, Yeh said.
According to the World Health Organization's latest statistics, as of May 23, Mexico had reported 75 deaths among the 3,879 laboratory confirmed cases.
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