NEW MEASURES: The CDC urged health personnel to be on the alert when treating people with pneumonia and check whether they had been to Wuhan recently
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Centers for Disease Control （CDC） yesterday said that preliminary tests have excluded flu, avian flu or adenovirus infections as possible causes of a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, that was first reported last week.
After a rumor spread online on Tuesday last week about a SARS-like infection in Wuhan, the CDC on Tuesday announced that while information from the Chinese government suggests that the disease does not resemble SARS, enhanced preventive measures would take effect immediately.
CDC officials are boarding all flights from Wuhan to Taiwan — 12 flights per week — to check whether passengers or crew have symptoms indicating a possible case of the disease, the agency said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang （莊人祥） said that the Chinese government has excluded flu, avian flu and adenovirus as possible causes, but it had not ruled out other novel viruses, such as a coronavirus.
“Coronaviruses can cause mild symptoms, similar to a common cold, but they can also cause serious symptoms, such as SARS or MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome],” Chuang said, adding that it is also important to find the source of the infection.
Chinese government information showed that there was no apparent evidence of human-to-human transmission, but the source of infection, the transmission route and whether there are communal outbreaks would be key points for the CDC to follow up on, and the factors will affect the centers’ risk evaluation, he said.
Since Tuesday last week, seven flights from Wuhan to Taiwan with a combined 633 passengers and crew had been inspected by airport quarantine officials, with six passengers showing mild symptoms, Chuang said.
One of the cases was confirmed as the flu, one a flu-like illness, one a common cold and another had a reduced fever, while local heath departments are following up on the two other cases, he said.
The CDC has issued a notice to healthcare professionals, urging them to be alert when treating people for pneumonia and to check whether they have traveled to Wuhan recently, he said, adding that they should report suspected cases and send a specimen for tests.
Forty-four people had been diagnosed with the illness as of Friday, with 11 in a critical condition, Chinese government data showed.
A total of 121 people who have had direct contact with patients are being observed, the data showed.
The CDC said that people planning to visit Wuhan and nearby areas should wash their hands frequently with soap, wear a surgical mask, avoid livestock markets, hospitals and crowded areas, and report to the airport quarantine station if they have a fever or flu-like symptoms when returning to Taiwan.
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