Taiwan extends highest travel warning to Hubei over epidemic

01/25/2020 06:27 PM
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Liu Shih-min (left), a division head of Taiwan
Liu Shih-min (left), a division head of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, and Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥).

Taipei, Jan. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control on Saturday extended its highest travel warning to China's Hubei province due to concerns over a coronavirus epidemic that originated in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

The CDC raised its travel advisory for Wuhan from a Level 2 alert to the highest Level 3 alert on Jan. 21 due to the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) there, and it decided to extend the warning for all of Hubei on Saturday, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press conference.

A Level 3 alert urges people to avoid unnecessary travel to the destination.

For other Chinese provinces and cities, the CDC upgraded its travel advisory to a Level 2 alert, which means taking extra precautions.

Meanwhile, an individual in Taiwan who was confirmed Friday to have the novel coronavirus visited a dance hall in Kaohsiung on Jan. 22 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. and did not wear a face mask, Chuang said.

He said Taiwan's Central Epidemics Command Center decided to unveil the man's movements to alert workers at the dance hall and customers who may have come in close contact with the patient to closely monitor their health.

If those who may have had contact with the man develop such symptoms as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should seek treatment immediately and report their situation to health authorities.

The man was one of two more people in Taiwan confirmed to have the coronavirus as of Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Taiwan to three following confirmation of the first case on Jan. 21.

The other new case was a Chinese woman who came to Taiwan with an 18-member tour group from Wuhan.

With the exception of the infected Chinese woman, the 17 other members of the group were set to leave Taiwan on Saturday, said Liu Shih-min (劉士銘), a division head of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau.

There are four tour groups of 56 members from Wuhan and four of 63 people from Hubei in Taiwan, Liu said, and the bureau will ask travel agencies to assess whether to let them leave Taiwan earlier than scheduled.

The command center said the two newly identified patients with the coronavirus are in stable condition, while the first patient is being given low flow oxygen therapy.

Because neither of the two newly identified patients visited the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, thought to be the starting point of the outbreak, the command center has been asking them about their movements in Wuhan to try to figure out the possible source of the virus.

As of Friday night, 41 people have died from the coronavirus in China, and there were 1,287 confirmed cases, according to China's National Health Commission.

Chuang said the figures could be underestimated, however, due to the limitations of China's public health monitoring system and its epidemiological investigation capability.

To prevent the spread of the pneumonia-like virus in Taiwan, the country has stayed in close communication with Japan, South Korea and the United States to exchange views on implementing screening for the virus and new quarantine procedures.

(By Phoenix Hsu and Evelyn Kao)

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