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Taiwanese authorities respond to swine flu estimates

Taiwanese authorities respond to swine flu estimates

Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) Health authorities urged the public Wednesday not to panic over the swine flu situation, in the wake of estimates that put the projected fatalities from the new flu strain in Taiwan near 7,000.
Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yaung Chih-liang, who serves concurrently as head of the Central Epidemics Command Center (CECC), pointed out that most A(H1N1) cases recorded in Taiwan so far have been mild infections and that only a minority of patients have developed serious complications.
"The public should be careful, but there is no need to panic," Yaung said.
Noting that epidemiologists around the world have made various predictions on the development of A(H1N1) outbreaks, Yaung said the CECC believes there are no right or wrong predictions and the center is not going to comment on any of them.
President Ma Ying-jeou is closely watching the situation and will meet with infectious disease experts Thursday to discuss related prevention and control measures, the minister said.
On Tuesday, Academia Sinica scholar Chen Chien-jen, who is a former minister of health, predicted that the outbreak is likely to affect one third of Taiwan's population. With a hypothetical death rate of 0.1 percent, the outbreak could result in nearly 7,000 deaths, Chen said.
Addressing the issue Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Steve Kuo said the prediction was probably based on a previous forecast by the World Health Organization that the new flu strain could infect one third of the world's population.
Although the new strain is currently responsible for one third of flu infections in Taiwan, it "would be too imprecise" to infer that one third of the country's population would become infected, Kuo said.
The CDC's tracking of the disease has shown that in the past week, approximately 7,000 people per day had sought medical attention with flu-like symptoms. Of that number, 2,100, or 29 percent, were found to be infected with influenza A(H1N1).
The CDC estimates that the total number of people in Taiwan infected with the virus has reached 40,000.
As of Wednesday, 47 severe infections had been recorded in the country, five of which have resulted in death, Kuo said. Ten of these 47 patients are still in hospital, while 32 have recovered and have been discharged, he added.
These figures demonstrate that most influenza A(H1N1) infections are mild and that most severe infections are curable, he said.
According to virologist Michael Ming-chiao Lai of National Cheng Kung University, the public should not be scared, because the severity of influenza A(N1H)1 is similar to seasonal flu.
The lack of immunity among the majority of people is what has increased the virus's epidemic potential, Lai explained.
Also Wednesday, the military reported three cases of influenza A(H1N1) infections among naval servicemen, bringing to 44 the total number of recorded cases involving military personnel since July 27.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party announced that it will hold a meeting with a group of former Cabinet members Friday to advise the Ma administration on measures that should be taken to prevent a major outbreak.
DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said his party is strongly opposed to President Ma's decision not to hold a national security meeting to deal with the influenza A(H1N1) situation, which he said indicates that Ma could be underestimating the potential danger of the disease.





Updated : 2021-06-25 11:11 GMT+08:00