2009-01-08 01:35 PM
Health officials on the Taiwan-controlled outlying island of Kinmen off China's Fujian province heightened their alert against avian flu yesterday, requiring all passengers coming in through the "mini-three links" route to have their body temperatures checked.
The Kinmen office of the Center for Disease Control under the Cabinet-level Department of Health set up a check point on the wharf for the ferry services between Kinmen and Fujian to measure the body temperature of each incoming passenger from China after being informed that a human case of avian flu resulted in the death of a 19-year-old woman in Beijing two days ago.
Wang Ho-shun, director of the office, told reporters that health officials would isolate any incoming passengers who had developed a fever and would find out who they had been in contact with.
He added that so far no passengers coming in from China showed any suspicious symptoms.
Chinese authorities have informed Taiwan, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), of the confirmed case of the H5N1 strain of human avian influenza.
According to China's Ministry of Health, the woman, Huang Yanqing, who lived on the outskirts of Beijing, died Jan. 5 after developing flu symptoms and tests confirmed she had the H5N1 bird flu virus. The woman appeared to have been infected during the slaughter and preparation of poultry.
Avian flu is primarily a communicable disease among birds, but the WHO and the governments of many countries remain on guard because the avian flu viruses have the potential to mutate and trigger outbreaks among humans.
The mini three links, which refer to ferry services between Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu and Chinese cities in Fujian province, currently offer some of the closest transportation connections between Taiwan and mainland China.
Kinmen lies just six kilometers east of Xiamen in China's Fujian province.
There was no immediate information on whether other ports of entry in Taiwan, including the Taipei Songshan Airport, which receives passengers arriving on direct Taiwan-mainland China flights, would also monitor incoming passengers for flu symptoms.