As the 2014 Ebola outbreak continues to ravage parts of West Africa, Taiwan is stepping up preparatory measures to protect its citizens while partnering with the global community to mount an effective response.
Taiwan is densely populated with a significant amount of international passenger traffic. And having experienced major disease outbreaks such as SARS, H1NI and H7N9, it exercises extreme caution to guard against the spread of communicable diseases.
“When the World Health Organization [WHO] declared the current Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern [PHEIC] on August 8, We immediately established a Task Force for Ebola Virus Disease Response to monitor the latest developments and reinforce the implementation of Ebola prevention measures,” Dr. Steve H.S. Kuo, director-general of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said in a statement.
Taiwan also has a number of heightened border measures that were instituted during the post-SARS period, including fever screening checkpoints at all ports of entry. For the current Ebola outbreak, Kuo said Taiwan has been broadcasting announcements on all arriving international flights since October 21, urging passengers who had been in Ebola-affected West African countries within the past 21 days to contact the quarantine officer at the airport.
The Taiwan CDC also requires passengers arriving from high-risk areas to fill out an Ebola Declaration Form indicating their travel history. These border measures constitute our first line of defense, which allows Taiwan CDC to activate its response mechanism as soon as suspected case is identified and to contain the virus.
“Following Ebola infection cases in Spain and the US, our government has heightened its vigilance against possible transmission. The six Ebola-designated hospitals around Taiwan have been instructed to ensure that all frontline healthcare workers are properly trained in the donning, wearing and doffing of personal protective equipment,” Kuo said.
Meanwhile, the regular medical institutions have conducted more than 1,200 Ebola safety training drills ad trained over 100,000 healthcare workers
“Given the complexity behind the emergence and transmission of the Ebola virus, we must halt the spread of the disease at its source,” Kuo said.
Taiwan is also ready and willing to participate in international and humanitarian aid efforts for affected countries, he added.
President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged to provide 100,000 sets of protective clothing, donated $1 million in cash, and dispatched a team of medical experts to affected areas in West Africa. Additionally, the Taiwan Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) has been in close contact with international FETPs, including US and Nigerian health officials, to exchange information on Ebola aid activities as well as to discuss how the Taiwan program can contribute to and participate in international medical aid efforts.