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Half of inbound travelers tested at airports positive for flu: CDC

12/05/2023 10:11 PM
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CDC Director General Lo Yi-chun speaks at the weekly press briefing in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Dec. 5, 2023
CDC Director General Lo Yi-chun speaks at the weekly press briefing in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Dec. 5, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Over half of the inbound travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macao who voluntarily took tests on arriving at one of four airports in Taiwan over the past week were positive for flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tuesday.

Starting Nov. 26, arriving travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macao have been encouraged to take tests at airports in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung if they display influenza-like symptoms.

Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 4, 68 of 88 arriving travelers who took tests were positive for respiratory illnesses, with 48 having contracted influenza and no cases of mycoplasma pneumoniae, the CDC said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), provinces in northern China have reported a jump in influenza-like illnesses for consecutive weeks since mid-October, likely driven by a combination of mycoplasma pneumoniae, RSV, COVID-19 and seasonal flu.

The CDC said in addition to the 48 flu infections, the remaining 20 travelers tested positive for other diseases, including nine confirmed COVID-19 cases, six adenoviruses cases, two rhinovirus cases and one parainfluenza virus case, while one individuals contracted both flu and COVID-19.

According to CDC Deputy Director General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) at a weekly press briefing, so far the confirmed cases have been mild.

In addition, regarding the situation in China, Lo said according to data released by Chinese health officials last week, both northern and southern provinces have seen an increase in respiratory diseases.

Lo said that among the cases, the positivity rate for influenza has increased across the country, with the rate in the north jumping from 27.6 percent to 36.9 percent, and the figure in the south rising from 34.5 percent to 44.3 percent.

Lo added that influenza A virus H3N2, which is dominant in Taiwan, is also dominant in China, indicating that flu cases will continue to grow, though a decline has been seen in mycoplasma pneumoniae infections.

However, Lo said, as the temperatures drops more and more people in China could catch flu.

As a result, current tests implemented at airports in Taiwan for the diseases will remain in place, with health officials making adjustments to the policy depending on the evolving situation, Lo said.

Also at the briefing, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said a man in his 40s died six days after testing positive for the illness in mid-November.

Lin said the man developed cardiogenic shock and multiple organ failure after testing positive for the disease, and died four days after being hospitalized.

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 31 people died of COVID-19, the highest weekly number in four weeks, Lo said.

According to CDC data, over 7,000 people have died from COVID-19 this year, making the disease the 7th leading cause of death for Taiwan nationals.

(By Tseng Yi-ning and Evelyn Yang)

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