Don't visit China, official tells Taiwanese

TAIPEI: The head of Taiwan's health department warned yesterday against non-essential visits to China, as authorities tried to determine whether three Taiwanese hospitalised with flu-like symptoms contracted the deadly atypical pneumonia that has spread through Asia. 

HEALTH MEASURE: A traveller arriving from Hong Kong walking by a sign leading her to a disinfectant carpet to avoid the spread of infectious diseases at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, near Taipei.--APpic.

The official, Tu Shin-che, said Taiwan was easily affected by epidemics in China since more than one million people visited the mainland each year. 

“If you must go to the mainland for personal reasons, please stay away from hospitals or rural areas,'' Tu said at a news conference. 

An official hotline set up last week has been bombarded with phone calls by people inquiring about their flu symptoms, many of whom had returned from China. Officials said they had urged the callers to seek medical check-ups but not to be unduly alarmed. 

Officials said the three Taiwanese who fell ill this month were in stable condition. 

They included a businessman who had returned from Guangdong in late February, his wife, and a woman who had travelled to Guangdong with 20 others in a group tour. – AP  

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