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After TB scare, DOH set to tighten air travel rules

After TB scare, DOH set to tighten air travel rules

The Cabinet-level Department of Health will impose stricter air travel control on patients with contagious tuberculosis starting next month after a Taiwanese couple from southern Taiwan who were suffering from the disease were taken back from China for treatment in July.
Starting on September 1, patients with "open contagious" or "active" tuberculosis and those with "multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)" will be banned from taking international flights until after their conditions have improved, said a spokesman for the DOH Center for Disease Control.
CDC Deputy Director Chou Chih-hao said his department has sent letters to some 1,100 patients in Taiwan with "active TB" or "MDR-TB" who have shown no signs of becoming negative anytime soon.
According to CDC statistics, "active" TB patients account for about a third of some 12,000 TB patients in Taiwan. A small portion or 399 of some 4,000 "active" TB patients suffer form MDR-TB, a more dangerous form of active TB. Of those patients suffering from MDR-TB, 188 have shown no sings of becoming negative in spite of their treatment. Those patients and some 900 patients with active TB who have not taken part in the directly observed treatment short-course (DOTS) program will be restricted from taking international flights.
Chou made the remark after a Taiwanese couple with active TB who flew to China despite a travel ban were escorted back to Taiwan on a helicopter arranged by the DOH.
The Taiwanese man, identified only by his family name of Lee, has MDR-TB, and his wife, who also has active TB, were sent to the DOH-run Taichung Hospital in central Taiwan for treatment in a quarantine ward immediately after they were escorted back to Taiwan last month.
Lee's daughter-in-law was also diagnosed with MDR-TB and is undergoing medical treatment in an isolation ward, while Lee's father, who has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, has been discharged from the hospital after received treatment.
TB patients on the control list may take international flights if they could provide customs officials with medical examination reports issued by doctors within seven days prior to their departures that show their status have become negative .
Chou reminded the public to be aware of tuberculosis as it has a long latency period. Patients with tuberculosis should take medicine regularly and people who need to take care of family members with tuberculosis must wear masks in order to lower the infection risk, he added.


Updated : 2021-05-18 23:00 GMT+08:00