Reported cases of seasonal flu, enterovirus fall this year: CDC

06/09/2020 09:48 PM
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CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) / CNA photo June 9, 2020
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) / CNA photo June 9, 2020

Taipei, June 9 (CNA) Hospitals in Taiwan have seen fewer patients with seasonal influenza and enterovirus this year and no cases of measles, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Tuesday.

There has been a clear fall in the number of reported cases of flu and enterovirus in the country compared to 2019, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said.

The country has so far seen no cases of measles, while the total number of patients confirmed with the disease in 2019 was well over 100, Liu said.

She suggested that the lower figures could be attributed to increased public awareness on communicable disease prevention in Taiwan as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to CDC statistics, the total number of severe flu cases in Taiwan in the 23 weeks of this year was 547 compared with 928 from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, confirmed cases of enterovirus infections with severe complications during the same period were 5 in 2020 and 12 in 2019.

For the enterovirus disease to be classified as an epidemic, the number of outpatients seeking emergency treatment at hospitals needs to exceed 11,000, CDC deputy director general Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.

Currently, 1,360 cases have been recorded this year, far below the 11,000 in the same period of last year, Chuang said.

To date, the confirmed number of insect-borne diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, Tsutsugamushi and dengue fever are also lower by at least 43 percent this year compared with 2019, the CDC said.

Meanwhile, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青), urged the public to remain vigilant and take preventive measures against dengue fever as Taiwan braces for more cases of the disease during the summer season.

According to Lin, the country reported two new imported cases of the disease in recent weeks, and advised people to seek medical assistance if they show symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain.

Based on statistics from the National Health Insurance Administration, the number of people who sought medical attention at hospitals in the first three months of this year was 5 million lower than the same period last year.

These figures strongly suggest the possibility that members of the public could be purposefully not visiting hospitals unless absolutely necessary, likely as a result of COVID-19, a fact that could also explain the unusual fall in numbers of patients with various ailments.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Ko Lin)

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