Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Taiwan's government on Friday widened its requirements for reporting suspected cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and urged Taiwanese returning from China for the Lunar New Year to avoid visiting crowded places, as part of its preventive efforts against the deadly disease that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Under the latest government directive, doctors are required to report to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if a patient shows up with a fever or acute respiratory infection and had been to Wuhan at least 14 days prior to falling ill, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press conference.
Prior to Friday, suspected cases were identified as patients with both a fever and acute respiratory infection, who had been in Wuhan at least 14 days before the symptoms appeared.
Meanwhile, from Friday until Feb. 29, designated hospitals will also provide free antiviral drugs to patients with flu-like symptoms, regardless of their nationality, Chuang said.
If the antiviral drug proves effective, it would rule out the 2019-nCoV because there is no treatment for it at the moment. Chuang said such an approach would help with the diagnosis at this time, which is the peak flu season in Taiwan.
Chuang also urged travelers from China, including the many Taiwanese citizens returning home for the Lunar New Year, to avoid public places and crowded areas. He also advised them not to take public transportation but said if they must do so, they should wear face masks.
As of Friday afternoon, a total of 134 suspected cases of the Wuhan coronavirus had been reported in Taiwan, 70 of which were reported Thursday, according to the latest statistics from the Central Epidemic Command Center.
Of the 134 patients, one was confirmed Tuesday as having the 2019-nCoV, and 106 were under quarantine, while 27 cases were ruled out as the coronavirus, according to the center.
Since the new infectious disease emerged in Wuhan in December last year, China has reported 830 cases and 26 deaths. A few cases have also been reported recently in other countries, including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.