WUHAN VIRUS/Travelers from China with specific symptoms to be quarantined: CDC

01/21/2020 12:22 PM
CDC authorities examining passengers flying in from Wuhan (CNA file photo)
CDC authorities examining passengers flying in from Wuhan (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) Travelers, regardless of nationality, who have recently been to China and are found to have "pneumonia-like symptoms" will now be subject to compulsory quarantine, Taiwan has announced as it moves to prevent the arrival of a new coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said Tuesday that the new measure took effect Monday after more cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) were confirmed in China and other parts of Asia over the weekend.

Though the CDC noted that those with the coronavirus may not develop a fever, the measure in practice will still depend on monitoring the temperatures of inbound travelers when they arrive at airports and seaports across the country.

Travelers with a fever will then be asked about their travel history and then be checked by a doctor if the situation warrants it.

Those found to have pneumonia-like symptoms such as shortness of breath and low blood-oxygen levels and who have been in China over the previous 14 days will be subject to compulsory quarantine, Chuang said.

Additional medical workers have been posted at Taiwan's international gateways to support the measure.

An electron microscope image of the coronavirus from Wuhan, China. (Photo provided by Yonhap News Agency, from Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
An electron microscope image of the coronavirus from Wuhan, China. (Photo provided by Yonhap News Agency, from Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Previously, people were only quarantined if they developed pneumonia-like symptoms and had been to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is believed to have first begun.

At the same time, those who have the above-mentioned 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, according to the CDC.

Chuang said, meanwhile, that the CDC will soon have brochures distributed on flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau that alert inbound travelers to the seriousness of the 2019-nCoV.

The brochures will remind them to watch their health and report their conditions to the authorities if they develop pneumonia-like symptoms or face a fine.

The CDC reiterated its appeal to Taiwanese traveling in China that they wear surgical masks and avoid contact with animals, animal markets and patients with acute respiratory syndrome.

People who develop a fever, acute cough or other respiratory symptoms within 14 days after returning from China should also contact the CDC via its hotline 1922, or 0800-001-922, wear a surgical mask and seek immediate medical attention.

More than 200 2019-nCoV cases have been confirmed around the world to date.

China has confirmed 219 of these cases, reporting four deaths and 35 patients in critical condition.

Cases of the virus have also been reported in three other countries -- Thailand, Japan and South Korea -- over the past week.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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