Taiwan's suspected Ebola case a false alarm: official

12/06/2014 03:48 PM
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CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (right).
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (right).

Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) A suspected Ebola case reported to Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) appears to be a hoax after the test on a young man admitted to the hospital Friday turned out to be negative, a health official said Saturday.

The 19-year-old student now faces a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$320) and NT$150,000 under the Communicable Disease Control Act, which requires patients to provide factual information about communicable diseases.

Chuang Jen-hsiang, deputy director-general of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control, said that a test on the patient proved negative after samples were rushed to a lab in Taipei early in the morning.

The young man's story about traveling in Africa and eating bat meat are now believed to have been entirely made up.

Chuang said earlier that a search based on the personal information provided by the man yielded no record of him ever leaving Taiwan despite claims that he had recently been to Nigeria. It turns out he does not even have a passport, Chuang added.

The claim was also suspicious because Nigeria was declared Ebola free in October, even as other West African nations continue to battle the spread of the deadly virus.

It was not immediately clear why the young man had presented false information to doctors at Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, which he was admitted to late Friday.

If the test results had come back positive, the man would have been Taiwan's first Ebola case.

The student, who is said to have taken extended leave from school, has shown no symptoms since being admitted to the hospital and has given contradictory accounts of his conditions and purported travels, Chuang told reporters.

The man told doctors at the hospital that he had recently traveled to Nigeria, where he ate a meal made from bat meat. Bats are known to be carriers of the Ebola virus, which has caused some 6,200 deaths this year, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The man complained of fever and other symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, according to the hospital.

Even though the man had not traveled to the three West African nations still listed as having ongoing Ebola outbreaks, the hospital reported the suspected Ebola case to the CDC around midnight Friday after careful evaluation, said Tsai Wu-hsiung, a Kaohsiung Department of Health official.

As a precautionary measure, the patient had been placed in a negative pressure isolation ward to prevent any possible spread of the virus, officials said.

(By Lung Pei-ning and Jay Chen)

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