WUHAN VIRUS/Medical expert calls for stricter fever standards

Taipei A department director at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) has advised Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to apply stricter standards when determining whether a patient has signs of a fever, in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus which has been declared a global public heath emergency.

Su Ta chen (???), Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine director, said at a press conference held in Taipei on Monday the CECC should update the traditional measurement of 38 degrees Celsius used by most health units around Taiwan to 37.4 degrees.

The novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) causes fever in around 99 percent of the people that catch it, including 20 percent of patients whose body temperature ranges from 37.3 38 degrees, Su said.

According to literature published in 2017 in the weekly peer reviewed medical journal BMJ, normal body temperature should be around 36.6 degrees, while another medical paper published in America this year suggested 36.4 degrees, he said.

"We used to think that 38 degrees indicated a fever because we believed 37 degrees was normal body temperature," he said.

Hence, if one more degree is added to normal body temperature to determine a fever, then with the new findings a temperature of 37.4 degrees indicates a fever, Su said, adding that many places in China are now using 37.4 degrees as a benchmark for quarantine.

"I am not sure why they use 37.4 degrees to indicate a fever in Wuhan and in many other provinces in China," he said. "Since we are located so geographically close to China, shouldn't we be aware and adapt a more stringent approach towards what indicates a fever?"

The cause for concern comes just one day after Taiwan recorded its first asymptomatic patient confirmed to be infected with the 2019 nCoV.

Chan Chang chuan (???), dean of National Taiwan University's College of Public Health, which organized the press conference, said a fever is a very critical symptom of the acute respiratory disease and revising the standards should be seriously considered by the government.

"Many institutions in the United States and Europe still adhere to traditional guidelines, but we see in China different indicators," he said.

The CECC was contacted by CNA, but did not make a statement with regards to the issue as of press time.

The virus, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has resulted in more than 40,000 infections and over 900 deaths, surpassing the death toll of the SARS epidemic of 2002 2003, which killed 774 people.

Taiwan has confirmed only 18 infections.

The World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency at the end of last month.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel