The public should be alert to an increase in the number of seasonal flu cases around the Lunar New Year holiday as people travel to be with their families or go on vacation, the Centers for Disease Control （CDC） said yesterday.
It also issued health warnings for travelers headed for China, Japan and South Korea.
Fewer flu cases have been recorded in Taiwan this month than in previous years, but the situation could easily worsen during the holiday, the agency said.
There could be as many as 26,500 hospital visits for flu-related symptoms between Friday and Thursday.
To meet increased demand for doctors’ appointments during the holiday, the CDC said it has worked with 86 hospitals nationwide to provide 933 appointment blocks at different facilities.
Senior citizens, young children and anyone with a chronic medical condition such as cardiovascular or renal disease or diabetes are at a higher risk of flu-related complications, including pneumonia and bronchitis, the agency said.
In other health-related news, officials said people visiting China should not visit poultry markets because of an outbreak of avian influenza in that nation.
They should also avoid contact with birds and be on guard while eating eggs in China, Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien （林奏延） said.
There have been 245 cases of H7N9 avian flu in China since Oct. 1 last year, with Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Guangdong provinces reporting the most cases, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo （羅一鈞） said, adding that the situation is the worst it has been during the same period over the past four years.
The CDC said it has sent doctors to Guangdong to get information about the situation, but it expects that the outbreak will continue because of the popularity of live poultry markets in China, and it will continue to monitor the situation.
There have also been outbreaks of norovirus in Japan and South Korea, but the situation in those countries has improved, Lo said.
However, visitors to those countries should avoid eating raw food and wash their hands frequently, Lo said, adding that most people have no resistance to the norovirus.
The virus is a common cause of viral gastroenteritis and is sometimes called the “winter vomiting bug.” Symptoms include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache and body aches.