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Nearly 40,000 patients infected with swine flu: CDC

Nearly 40,000 patients infected with swine flu: CDC

Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) Close to 40,000 people in Taiwan have contracted influenza A(H1N1) since early June, with a majority of them developing only mild symptoms, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yang Chi-liang, who serves as chief of the Central Epidemic Command Center, said Tuesday.
Citing estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH, Yang said about 38,000 people have been infected over the past three months around the country, with some 12,000 getting the virus last week alone.
Yang admitted that the epidemic, widely known as swine flu, is gradually spreading as had been previously forecast, but he added that "it will be OK if patients take medicine early enough." "Around 70 percent of the people infected with the influenza A(HINI) virus will recover without taking anti-virals, " he noted.
The DOH's top concern at present, Yang went on, is to stave off a massive outbreak of A(H1N1), as it had initially succeeded in stemming the spread of the disease.
According to CDC Director-General Kuo Hsu-sung, there have been only 44 pneumonia cases induced by swine flu in Taiwan. Twenty-two of them have recovered, five have died, five are still in intensive care units and five are in normal wards.
"Swine flu does not necessarily lead to death from pneumonia, " Kuo said, pointing out that last year, Taiwan recorded 8,000 deaths caused by pneumonia, while for last week alone, there were 183 such cases, only two of which were induced by swine flu.
"Compared to the same period of last year, the number of pneumonia deaths linked to swine flu has not markedly increased, but the possibility of further deaths cannot be ruled out for the whole of this year," he added.
Kuo forecast that the first wave of swine flu will hit hard after schools begin the new semester in early September. However, he went on, the impact will be minimized as long as schools follow due procedure to stop classes for five days if "two cases are confirmed in three days in the same class." Meanwhile, Adimmune Corp., Taiwan's only producer of swine flu vaccine, said it had begun mass production of vaccine and that the first batch of 5 million doses will be ready by the middle of September.
A vaccination program is expected to kick off in mid-November, once the drug's safety can be proven by the authorities, a company manager said.
Meanwhile that day, Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi said President Ma Ying-jeou had decided not to call a national security meeting for the time being to address the swine flu issue, despite grave public concern that the situation might spiral out of control.
The president made the decision upon the advice of Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, who had discussed the matter with epidemic experts, who assessed that the situation did not merit such a meeting, according to Wang.
(By Flor Wang)