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CDC dismisses rumors of impending deadly 'new Aussie flu' pandemic

2018/03/13 19:18:02

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday there is no truth to the rumors about a deadly mutated influenza virus, dubbed the "new Aussie flu," which allegedly poses a risk to millions of people worldwide.

At a press conference, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the "new Aussie flu" does not exist, and he urged Taiwan citizens not to panic.

He was responding to a rash of online rumors of an impending flu pandemic caused by a deadly mutation of a flu virus that killed several people in Australia last year.

According to the speculations on social media, the "new Aussie flu" is likely to cause up to 300 million deaths worldwide, but Chuang said there is no data or evidence from Australia's Department of Health to indicate that a new strain of the virus has developed.

He said the rumors most likely originated with readers who misunderstood the reports about the influenza outbreak in Australia last year and the predictions by experts on flu trends.

The flu outbreaks in Australia and Japan last year were caused by two different strains of the same virus, and had an impact worldwide, which is probably why foreign media outlets have been reporting heavily on deadly flu viruses, Chuang said.

Those reports, coupled with doctors' predictions about a flu pandemic that could kill millions of people, have stirred up rumors about an impending "new Aussie flu," he said.

Urging the public to calm down, Chuang said Taiwan has the medical resources and capability handle an outbreak, based on its experience of dealing with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

Nonetheless, he said, people are advised to pay attention to personal health and hygiene, washing their hands frequently, wearing face masks, and getting adequate rest, in an effort to avoid catching existing flu viruses.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Kuan-lin Liu)
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