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Taiwan reports 139,848 cases of diarrhea last week: Taiwan CDC

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The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Command Center deputy director Lee Chia-lin speaks about Taiwan's diarrhea cases at a press conference in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo April 16, 2024

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday announced that the number of patients who sought medical assistance for diarrhea last week reached almost 140,000.

At a Tuesday press conference, deputy director of the CDC's Central Epidemic Command Center Lee Chia-lin (李佳琳) revealed that the center's statistics for April 7-13, indicate 139,848 individuals sought medical help for diarrhea-related sickness across the country.

The statistics are based on roughly the same population over the same time period of last year, but the number of patients climbed 15.7 percent from last week's total of 120,868, according to Lee.

The number of individuals who fell ill from diarrhea-related sickness last week is the fourth highest in the same time period over the past decade, Lee said.

In addition, 203 mass event cases have been reported over the past four weeks, nearly four times higher than the 54 cases documented in the same period of last year, Lee added.

Of the 203 reported cases, 56 tested positive for viral infections, 45 of which were norovirus, Lee said.

Due to the highly infectious nature of norovirus, CDC spokesperson Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑慧) implored the general public to be aware of food and personal hygiene.

Individuals who suffer from diarrhea should wait at least 48 hours after symptoms subside to return to work or school, Tseng said.

In related news, a number of individuals tested in the three major diarrhea-related community cases last week tested positive for norovirus, Tseng noted at the presser.

Three of the large cluster of residents at Xishan Village in Taipei's Shilin District who developed diarrhea symptoms tested positive for the virus, he added.

At Kura Sushi restaurant chain, which has seen branches fail to meet hygiene standards recently, three patrons were found to have been infected by the virus after having dined at the franchise's Tamsui and Xinzhuang Honhui branches in New Taipei.

Meanwhile, of the cases reported by diners who patronized Truewow or Xiang La Spicy Hot Pot owned by Wowprime Corp., two customers were determined to have fallen ill from Norovirus.

Other than patrons, two Wowprime employees plus one who works in the kitchen were found to have been infected by the virus.

Further tests are being conducted on samples collected from individuals in the three cluster infections, Tseng said.

Tests to determine other food poisoning sources are also being conducted, Tseng added.

Tseng clarified that the CDC is only responsible for testing sample cultivated from human subjects, while environmental elements are under the jurisdiction of local governments where the restaurants are located.

In a press statement released Tuesday afternoon, Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) explained that if contaminants which caused diners to get sick are proven to have come from kitchen workers, as in the case with Wowprime, companies could be subjected to a fine of NT$60,000 (US$1,845) to NT$200 million (US$6.15 million) for violating Article 15 of Taiwan's Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.

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