Three Taipei hospital staff show symptoms after H7N9 bird flu contact; H7N9 outbreak in Taiwan could derail buoyant stock market

Three Taipei hospital staff show symptoms after H7N9 contact

CNA and Staff Reporter, 2013-04-25

Three hospital personnel have developed respiratory symptoms after coming into contact with Taiwan’s first confirmed case of H7N9 avian flu, the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center said Wednesday. All three had taken proper protective measures when providing medical care for the patient, a 53-year-old man who fell ill three days after returning from eastern China’s Jiangsu province, one of the H7N9-affected areas, the center said. A survey of the epidemic situation showed that 139 local people had come into contact with the man, a Taiwanese businessman based in Jiangsu’s Suzhou area, the center said. Three of them had close contact, 26 had contact more than seven days ago — putting them outside the infectious period — and 110 are hospital personnel, the center said. Four of the hospital staff have also passed the infectious period and have not developed symptoms, the center said. A further three of the hospital staff did not take proper protective measures when treating or caring for the patient, but none of them have so far shown any symptoms, the center said, adding that they will be strictly monitored until April 27. The epidemic control center said that all those who have had contact with the patient have been served notice urging them to monitor their own health. They will also be subject to close monitoring until their respective infectious periods expire, the center said, adding that public health officials will help people on the watch list get medical treatment should they develop flu-like symptoms such as fever or coughing. The quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation said Wednesday it has posted information about the imported H7N9 case in Taiwan on its website and urged the Taiwanese trade association in Suzhou to help push Taiwanese residents in the region to step up epidemic prevention measures and provide them with news updates. China reported the world’s first confirmed H7N9 human infections March 31, and as of April 23, 108 cases had been confirmed there, with 22 deaths. Two of China’s largest cities — Shanghai and Beijing — as well as five Chinese provinces — Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan and Shandong — have reported confirmed infections. As of 8am Wednesday, Taiwan had reported 129 suspected H7N9 cases, 128 of which have been ruled out as H7N9 infections, said Chou Jih-haw, deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control under the Department of Health. The center said it had informed the World Health Organization and China of Taiwan’s first H7N9 case earlier in the day, Chou said. It was also the first H7N9 case outside China.

H7N9 outbreak in Taiwan could derail buoyant stock market

Staff Reporter, 2013-04-25

News of Taiwan’s first confirmed case of H7N9 avian influenza is expected to derail the country’s surging stock market, reports our Chinese-language sister paper China Times.The new strain of the bird flu — which has so far killed 22 people in 108 cases in mainland China — was confirmed to have arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday. The patient is a 53-year-old Taiwanese businessman working in Suzhou in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, one of the areas affected by the virus. The man started displaying symptoms three days after returning to Taiwan on April 9 and is currently in a serious condition in an intensive care ward in Taipei.

Three healthcare workers who came into contact with the patient have developed symptoms of upper respiratory infection and are under observation. There have so far been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Taiwan’s stock market had surged past the 8,000-point mark on Wednesday and analysts had expected the market to exceed a previous high of 8,089 points on Thursday, but the upward trend may falter in light of the country’s first H7N9 case.

JPMorgan fund manager Yen Jung-hung said the impact of H7N9 on Taiwan’s stock market should be less serious than the deadly SARS outbreak that killed nearly 800 people worldwide between 2002 and 2003, including 37 deaths directly attributable to the virus in Taiwan. Health authorities have been up-front about the outbreak and are already in the process of developing a vaccine, Yen said, adding that the flu is less likely to spread as summer approaches.

Any negative impact of the virus on the stock market should also be relatively short-lived, Yen said. In 2003, the domestic stock market dropped by 11% within six trading days when the first SARS case was announced, but quickly rebounded by as much as 28% after Taiwan was taken off the list of infected areas, he said.

Biotech stocks will be a focal point in the days ahead, and it is believed that vaccine stocks and hygiene and health supply companies will be more heavily traded. Manufacturers of face masks, antibacterial cleaners and temperature testing equipment, in particular, could see a spike in demand in the short term, Yen said.

With the number of H7N9 cases still on the rise in China, airline and tourism-related stocks have suffered the most. There are currently no restrictions on tourists from mainland China but this could change if the virus continues to spread.

Between February 2003 and October 2005, the Taiwanese stock market suffered sharp losses due to health worries, according to analyst Yu Jui-ming from Prudential Financial. The SARS outbreak required four months of adjustment before the market returned to normal, whereas a bird flu outbreak required two months, meaning that if H7N9 spreads it could stifle confidence in Taiwanese stocks for several months, Yu said

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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