《TAIPEI TIMES》 CDC raises health alert at borders
People walk in a departure lounge at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in an undated photograph. Photo: Taipei Times file
UNUSUAL UPTICK: There are more flu-like illnesses in northern China than in the past 3 years, but data from Beijing showed that known pathogens are responsible
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
Responding to an uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, the Centers for Disease Control （CDC） yesterday said it has instructed international airport and port quarantine centers to raise their alert levels, and plans to issue an alert to healthcare practitioners.
The number of flu-like illnesses reported in northern China has been increasing for five consecutive weeks, and is higher than the same period in the past three years, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞） said.
“According to the WHO’s latest statement, issued yesterday, information provided by Chinese government showed that the illnesses were mainly reported among children, and the illnesses were attributed multiple known pathogens,” he said.
The pathogens include Mycoplasma pneumoniae, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS-CoV-2, Lo said.
“First, we advise [people] to get the flu vaccine and the XBB.1.5-adapted COVID-19 vaccine before traveling to China,” Lo said. “Second, we advise them to wash their hands frequently and wear a mask after arrival in China and to avoid crowded settings.”
If people who have traveled to China have fever or flu-like symptoms when returning to Taiwan, they should tell the quarantine officers at the airport quarantine center, so that they can be screened and assessed, Lo said.
“If travelers develop a fever or flu-like symptoms shortly after returning to Taiwan, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible and tell the doctor about their recent travel history,” he said.
The CDC yesterday informed its quarantine centers at international airports and ports to raise their alert levels and use electronic display boards to inform travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau to take note of their health report to quarantine officers if they have a respiratory illness, Lo said.
The CDC would also issue an alert to healthcare practitioners to notify them about the increase in respiratory illnesses in China and remind them to ask patients about their recent travel history, he said.
“We will continue to collect information through governmental and non-governmental channels to monitor the respiratory illness outbreak in China,” he added.