Bird flu: Taiwan raises travel alert for Tianjin, China


TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided Wednesday to raise its travel alert for Tianjin in northern China to level 2 “Alert,” warning travelers planning to visit the coastal metropolis to take enhanced precautions against avian flu.

The CDC said it had informed the Mainland Affairs Council, the Cabinet-level agency responsible for handling affairs related to China, of the increased alert.

Under the 3-tier travel advisory system used by the CDC, the level 2 “Alert” urges travelers planning to visit affected areas to heighten their vigilance against bird flu, practice good personal hygiene, avoid contact with poultry and birds and visiting live poultry markets, and consume only thoroughly cooked poultry and eggs in order to avoid infection.

The other two levels are the level 1 “Watch,” which urges travelers planning to visit affected areas to take usual precautions, and the level 3 “Warning,” which warns against non-essential travel.

The CDC also urged anyone who develops flu-like symptoms after returning to Taiwan from overseas to wear a surgical mask, seek immediate medical attention and inform the doctor about the relevant travel and exposure history, to facilitate diagnosis and treatment.

Since last autumn, a cumulative total of 109 cases of H7N9 influenza infections have been confirmed in China, the CDC said.

Currently, the CDC has issued level 2 alerts for avian influenza for Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province, Anhui Province, Hunan Province, Shanghai, Fujian Province, Jiangxi Province, Sichuan Province, Shandong Province, Hubei Province, Hebei Province, Beijing, and Tianjin, and level 1 for the other provinces and cities in China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau.

Since 2013, a cumulative total of 786 cases of H7N9 influenza infections have been confirmed around the world, with 306 fatalities, the CDC said, citing World Health Organization statistics.