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Taiwan airport holds Ebola detection drill

Taiwan is not taking the threat of an Ebola virus outbreak lightly. It has held its first Ebola detection exercise at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei.

TAIPEI: Taiwan is not taking the threat of an Ebola virus outbreak lightly. It has held its first Ebola detection exercise at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei. The drill on Wednesday (Aug 13) comes as the Ebola epidemic, the worst since the disease was first discovered four decades ago, has killed 1,013 people since early this year, the World Health Organization said.


Ebola cases have so far been limited to West African countries Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Only about 1,200 people travel to Taiwan directly from West Africa every year.

Though the island may be less exposed to travellers from West Africa, health authorities are not taking any chances. On Wednesday, Taoyuan airport conducted a drill designed to intercept the arrival of travellers suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus. The exercise included taking suspected Ebola-infected travellers to local hospitals.

The Centres for Disease Control's first drill aims to show that Taiwan is prepared to tackle a potential Ebola outbreak. The director of the Centres for Disease Control, Steve Kuo, said: "Ebola is a virus transmitted through direct contact, not airborne. So, as long as we have done all the preventive measures according to standards, we should be able to eliminate its chances of spreading." 


Taiwan's airports are also tightening the screening of arriving travellers. Once a passenger is detected with a possible infection, he or she will be taken to Taoyuan General Hospital where the person will be brought to a quarantine station to be examined by fully-protected doctors.

Taoyuan General Hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases director Cheng Chu Hsing said: "We have handled cases of new contagious diseases in the past. So we have our emergency unit, quarantine wards and all facilities ready on standby in case of an Ebola outbreak. We're confident that we can contain the situation when the disease hits."

There are no reported cases of Ebola in Taiwan at this point. But if the outbreak of SARS in 2002 is anything to go by, Taiwan is certainly not taking any chances.