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Homeland Security

Taiwan raises travel alert for Wuhan over deadly coronavirus

ROC Central News Agency

01/21/2020 10:30 PM

Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upgraded its travel alert for Wuhan Tuesday, following the report of the country's first confirmed case of a new type of coronavirus, carried by a Taiwanese woman who was recently in the central Chinese city.

The CDC decided to lift its travel advisory to the highest level in its three-tier system for Wuhan due to the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) there, which has already killed six people, according to CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍).

The CDC's three-tier system is watch, alert and warning, in order of severity.

The decision was made as the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, which was first detected in Wuhan, continues to spread across Asia.

China has confirmed almost 300 cases with six death cases as of Tuesday.

Thailand, Japan and South Korea have also reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus over the past week, according to CDC data.

The World Health Organization said it believed there had been only limited human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the prevalence of community-acquired infections of the novel coronavirus seemed to have been increasing in China, posing a potential threat to Taiwan.

Chuang advised people who have visited Wuhan to inform a specialist of their travel history by calling the communicable disease reporting hotline 1922 if they develop symptoms such as fever or respiratory tract infection within 14 days of returning to Taiwan.

At the same time, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) warned that those who have pneumonia-like symptoms and have been to China but fail to report their conditions to related health authorities could face a fine of up to NT$150,000 (US$4,959) for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act.

Experts have advised people wear surgical masks, wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face and eyes before washing to avoid infection.

Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital's Division of Infectious Diseases, suggested people should avoid visiting crowded places, while wearing surgical masks and washing their hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of exposure to respiratory viruses.

Currently, the mode(s) of transmission of the infectious disease are still unknown but with 15 Chinese medical workers in Wuhan diagnosed with pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, it is believed that they might have been infected by coming into contact with objects contaminated by the saliva, phlegm or secretions of the patients, Huang said.

Hwang Kao-pin (黃高彬), chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at China Medical University Children's Hospital in Taichung, said the source and transmission routes of the new type of coronavirus in Wuhan are still unknown.

Given that coronaviruses are usually mutable, people should take precautions and avoid visiting Wuhan amid the outbreak of the pneumonia-like virus, he said.

If people have to go to Wuhan, Hwang advised them to use N95 masks, wash their hands frequently, while also avoiding touching wild animals and poultry.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao)


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