H7N9 cases likely to increase in Taiwan, health officials say

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - In light of the confirmed case of H7N9 in Taiwan on April 24, Chang Feng-yih, the commander of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) for H7N9 influenza has reported that the number of H7N9 cases is likely to increase following the bird migration season in Autumn, and has asked all officials to stay alert. He added that there have been 133 reported cases of flu-like illnesses starting from April 3, with 30 per cent confirmed later to be seasonal flu.

"Experts have stated that the avian flu does not transmit through human contact, so people shouldn't panic," Jiang said. The World Health Organization (WHO) had said before that there was no evidence that the new H7N9 is spreading easily among people in China, according to The Associated Press.

"Because the bird flu is hard to distinguish from upper respiratory tract infections during the incubation period, we urge medical teams to treat flu-like patients with extreme care at the beginning of treatment," Jiang said.

Chang added that each mild case of flu illness from now on will be treated like a serious illness in hospitals in case of H7N9.the government has announced it may bring forward the launch of a ban on the slaughter of fowl in traditional markets from June 17 to May 17.

Ban on slaughtering live fowl in markets

Premier Jiang Yi-huah has asked that the Council of Agriculture (COA) communicate with slaughterhouses and set up support measures before launching the ban.

After acknowledging the confirmed case of avian flu, the Cabinet launched responsive measures yesterday morning, gathering officials from the Department of Health (DOH), the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the Council of Agriculture (COA), led by the premier.

Chang said that banning the killing of live fowl in traditional markets will help protect vendors and consumers from being potentially affected by bird flu.

CECC confirmed Taiwan's first case of H7N9 avian influenza on April 24. The patient is a 53-year-old male Taiwanese citizen who had worked in China's Jiangsu province.

The CECC said that the patient, who returned to Taiwan from Shanghai on April 9, is currently in serious condition and is being treated in a negative-pressure isolation room.

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