MIGRANT WORKERS’ SARS PROTECTION NETWORK

 

INITIATED BY:  SCHOOL NURSES ASSOCIATION, CALL, TAVOI, HWC, MWCD & TIWA   2003/05/10

 

The recent news on the 3 Indonesian caretakers who died of SARS has made us, TIWA and other NGOs, to draw up information handout for a weak sector of the society which is the migrant workers.  TIWA felt that there should be information for the migrants in order to enable them to protect themselves and prevent them from panicking out of fear of being infected.  This is also a way to protect their rights and health.

 

I. WHAT IS SARS?

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) although caused by a VIRUS cannot be regarded as a very deadly disease. In fact, once infected the recovery rate is 95%.  However, since SARS can be spread easily it is important that people have the proper information on how to prevent the spread of the virus.  Although there is no known vaccine yet to protect ourselves, maintaining healthy life and a clean environment will us to build a strong body resistance against the virus.

 

COMPARISON OF SARS WITH OTHER FLU-LIKE DISEASES:

Symptom

Flu

Cold

SARS

Initial symptoms

Symptoms occur suddenly and get worse within a few hours.

Symptoms occur gradually, usually starts with stuffy nose.

On the first onset of symptoms, patients have over 38° body temperature.

Sore throat

Sometimes obvious throat ache.

With moderate sore throat.

To unknown extent.

Fever

High temperature of over 38°.

Temperature is about 38°.

Over 38°

Headache

With serious headache.

Sometimes comes with a slight headache.

To unknown extent.

Muscle Pain

Whole body suffers from muscle and joint pains.

Slight suffering from muscle and joint pains.

Obvious tenderness in the neck and muscle pain.

Respiratory Organ Failure

During the first 1-2 days coughing and sneezing, but this is not so common.

Usually comes with sneezing and stuffy nose.

More than 1 symptom including coughing, short breath and difficulty in breathing.

Period of Disease

Duration of 1-2 weeks with chest pain.

Recovers within a short period.

Cure is not known and death rate is around 3%. 

Latent Period (Incubation Period)

First manifestation of symptoms 1-3 days after infection.

 

Critical period is 2-7 days, maximum of 10 days. 

Others

 

 

On the chest x-rays, there are prominent pathological changes. 

ON THE FIRST ONSET OF SYMPTOMS, IMMEDIATELY SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION!

 

II. HOW SARS SPREADS?

l         Though exchange of saliva, excrements (body fluids) with persons who are already infected.

l         Most cases occur within the areas frequented by medical staff (90%) or people who have personal contact with SARS patients (10%).

l         Virus persists on surfaces such as tables, door knobs or things that people often touch.  Frequent and proper washing of hands is advised.

 

III DO I HAVE SARS?

 

HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER I GOT SARS?

l         SUSPECTED CASE:  The first suspected case occurred in November 1, 2002:

If you have high fever of about 38° and coughing or difficulties in breathing if within 10 days before the symptoms occur you have had 1 or more of the exposures listed below:

I.                 Close contact with suspected SARS patients (Please inquire if the suspected person had any either direct or indirect personal contact with the HOPING HOSPITAL OR REN CHI HOSPITAL.  If yes, then it can be listed as having a contact history).

II.               Close contact with people who have been to Guangdong Province, Hongkong, Singapore, Toronto (Canada) and Hanoi (Vietnam).

III.             Close contact with people who lived or resided in Quangdong Province, Hongkong, Singapore, Toronto Canada and Hanoi, Vietnam and who died of an unknown respiratory disease in the above mentioned areas after November 1, 2002.

 

l         PROBABLE CASE:  A suspected case who has one of the following conditions can be listed as a probable case:

X-ray shows symptoms of pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome. Positive results in various clinical laboratory tests as prescribed by competent medical experts based on the criteria of the WHO.

A death case in which after the autopsy the reasons for the occurrence of a respiratory distress syndrome remain unexplained.

 

l         CONDITION under which an infection with SARS can be excluded:

If there is another diagnosis which fully explains the cause of the disease then SARS as a cause can be excluded.

 

WHO IS EASILY INFECTED? 

 

I.                 Persons with the following conditions belong to the high risk group for SARS infection:   

l         Family or household members have been to high risk areas during the last 3 months.

l         Taking care of, living together or having personal contact with SARS patients or suspected SARS patients.

l         Having fever of more than 38° and showing one or more respiratory symptoms such as coughing, short breath or difficulty in breathing. 

II.               Persons who have had contacts with the high risk group for SARS infection:

l         PLEASE HAVE THE HOUSE QUARATINED FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.  PLEASE GIVE SUPPORT TO THOSE PUT UNDER HOUSE QUARANTINE. THEY DO THIS IN ORDER TO PROTECT EVERYBODY FROM GETTING INFECTED WITH SARS!

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FEAR THAT I AM INFECTED?

        If you suspect having SARS symptoms or if you are belong to the high risk group for SARS infection please do not panic.  Inform your employer and contact a nearby hospital or the broker by telephone.  They will arrange the best care for you.

 

 

IV. BUILD UP BODY RESISTANCE AND TAKE SOME PROTECTIVE MEASURES IS THE BEST SOLUTION!

 

SELF PROTECTION

1.       Avoid going out or taking public transportation. If you need to do so, please do not close the windows or doors.

2.       Avoid going to crowded or public places, especially in closed areas such as hospitals, net cafés, movie theaters, libraries etc. If you need to go there, please wear a mask and wash yours hands frequently and thoroughly.

3.       Avoid visiting patients or seeing a doctor in the hospital, especially hospitals with SARS patients.

4.       Please teach children to wash their hands with soap and not to touch their mouth, nose and eyes with their hands.

5.       Have a balanced and nutritious diet and regularly do moderate exercise to improve your immune system.

6.       Children who have a weaker immune system must wear a mask at all times to avoid spreading body fluids such as saliva.

7.       Regularly check your body temperature and be aware of your health condition.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL HYGIENE

1.       Keep your room well ventilated.

2.       Please keep your household environment clean.  Here are some disinfectant solutions that can be used:

Method:  Use bleach that is commonly available in the market (with a chemical content of 8-12%).  This is the cheapest and most effective disinfectant solution.

Preparation:

a. Wear waterproof gloves.

b.       Dilute bleach following the ratio 1:100 (bleach:water).

 

Area used:  Wipe the tables, chairs, toys, floors and other places that are frequently touched using the solution.

 

Frequency:  Please disinfect regularly in places where people usually move or go around. During the spreading period of SARS better disinfect your house everyday.

 

MUTUAL CARE

        As long as we protect ourselves, wear a mask, wash our hands regularly and follow the quarantine instructions we can all avoid infection.  Please do not panic or discriminate suspected or probable SARS patients.  A good self protection is to SAVE YOURSELF AND SAVE OTHERS!  Not everybody is a SARS carrier. With extra care you can give support and encouragement to SARS patients to recover faster and improve the immune system.  Panic and excessive doubts can weaken your immune system.

 

V. WHAT IS QUARATINE AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO IF WE ARE QUARATINED?

        Quarantine is not a detention but a necessary way to prevent the spread of the disease.

 

THE 2 CONDITIONS OF HOUSE QUARANTINE:

 

There are the following two categories:

Type

Special Category

Close contact Category

Applied to Whom?

People who come back from SARS identified countries.

People who have or had close contact with a SARS patient.

Quarantine Duration

At least 10 days and with observation if there are any SARS symptoms.

At least 14 days and with observation if there are SARS symptoms.

Outing Restriction

Permission to go out for the following (wearing a protective mask is mandatory):

1.         Medication

2.         Exercising in outdoor areas.

3.         Buying food, newspaper and throwing garbage.

4.         With the permission of a government official.

Not allowed to go out. If there is exceptional case and the person has the permission of a government official then wearing a mask is mandatory.

Prohibited Activities

1.       Go to crowded or public places such as banks, library, markets, shopping malls, department stores, gyms, theaters, restaurants, KTV, net cafes etc.

2.       Take public transportation.

3.       Visit patients in the hospital.

1.       Go to public places.

2.       Take public transportation.

Quarantine Regulations

1.       Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose the tissue that you used by flushing down the toilet or placing in a sealed plastic bag.

2.       Wear a mask to protect people around you when you have fever over 38°, cough, or have short breath, immediately see a doctor and report the exposure history.

3.       Regularly wash your hands, especially when you touch body fluids and excrements.

1.     Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose the tissue that you used by flushing down the toilet or placing in a sealed plastic bag.

2.     Wear a mask to protect people around you when you have fever over 38°, cough, or have short breath, immediately see a doctor and report the exposure history.

3.     Regularly wash your hands, especially when you touch body fluids and excrements.

4.     Use disposable gloves when touching the body fluids of a SARS patient and immediately dispose the gloves and wash your hands.

5.     SARS patients should not share eating utensils, towels or bed sheets with others.  Those things can only be re-used after being washed with soap and hot water.

6.     Wear disposable gloves and use a 5% bleach to disinfect a SARS contaminated area.

Punishment of disobeying regulations.

According to Article 41 of the Prevention of Communicable Disease, you can be penalized from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000 or its equivalent penalty according to Article 192 of the Criminal Law, you can be detained of up to 2 years.

According to Article 41 of the Prevention of Communicable Disease, you can be penalized from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000.

How should neighbors interact with quarantined persons?

They are not confirmed virus carriers but under suspicion. Avoid contact but do not overreact.  According to the present understanding of SARS, you cannot be infected just because you are a neighbor. You can help them in purchasing their daily needs and drop them in front of their door. Wash your hands and wear a mask. If quarantined people did not exhibit SARS symptoms for the last 10 days, then they are just as healthy as others, LIKE YOU!  Please do not be scared!

They are not confirmed virus carriers but just possible SARS carriers.  Avoid personal contact and instead use the phone to get in touch and you will not get infected. If quarantined people did not exhibit SARS symptoms for the last 14 days, then they are just as healthy as others, LIKE YOU!  Please do not be scared!

As for current knowledge SARS cannot be spread though air, please do not panic and cause trouble to people who are under house quarantine.

 

P.S.  The Department of Health will issue a notification for those persons who need to be quarantined. They will be properly compensated according to the regulation set up by the government.  Please inform the center to check if you qualify for the quarantine regulation.  Any self-appointed quarantine will be viewed as an individual behavior and will not be protected by the compensation law.

 

VI. RELATED LAWS AND WORK ADJUSTMENTS

        Migrant workers have the same treatment as the local workers.  The rules regarding work stoppage, taking a leave or occupational injuries are the following:

 

1.       Should the company pay wages during the period it stops operation while the working area is disinfected because of possible SARS contamination?

Yes, the wages must be paid during the period the employer asked the workers to stop while the work place is disinfected.

 

2.       Should the employer pay the migrant worker if he/she is forced to be quarantined under the supervision of the Department of Health?

According to the temporary regulation issued by the Administrative Yuan for the SARS prevention and relief, the people who are forced to be quarantined for 14 days receive 10 days official leave.  During the period of quarantine, the employer cannot terminate the labor contract and the suspected SARS patient must be quarantined where he/she presently lives.

 

3.       Can a worker refuse to go on official trip to a high risk area for SARS infection?

Unless the employer provides proper safety protection a worker can refuse.  The employer cannot terminate a worker, cut his/her salary or penalize him for this.

 

4.       If the worker is infected with SARS due to a work related activity, does it count as occupational injury or disease?

If the worker is identified as a SARS patient due to a work related reason, the employer should give him/her official sick leave and give the full salary.  During the period of medication, the worker can take the official sick leave and salary should be paid as usual.  If the worker dies, the employer has to release 5 months’ average wage for the funeral expenses and a death compensation of 40 months’ average wage to the worker’s family in addition to NT$100,000 compensation from the Central Government.  The period of medication or recovery is considered as occupational injury period. The workers who are not covered by labor insurance can still claim for the same benefits under the Occupational Injury Protection Law.

 

5.       What will I do if I get infected with SARS but not related to my work?

According to CLA during the period of medication the worker can still avail of the official sick leave and must receive the full wages. However, the regulation regarding the compensation is still undecided.

 

6.       What if a worker is quarantined at home and cannot go to work?

If a worker is quarantined at home under the supervision of the Department of Health, or quarantined in Hoping Hospital or cannot go to work, the employer must pay him/her full official sick leave pay and must not force the worker to take personal leave in order to avoid paying the full salary. This period cannot be counted as absence from work that affects the attendance record of the worker.  Whether the government will compensate the employer is pending final decision.

 

7.       If the employer suspects a worker to be infected with SARS and asks him/her to stop working, does the employer need to pay wages?

Yes, the employer must pay the full salary if the workers stop to work even if there is only a suspicion that the worker is infected.

 

8.       What should I do if my employer refuses to give me a day off because he/she is afraid that I might get infected with SARS?

According to the CLA there is no regulation on this issue. It depends on the negotiation between the employer and worker.

 

9.       What if I am confirmed to be infected with SARS?

Even though SARS is a communicable disease identified by the government, CLA says that the employer cannot terminate the labor contract and has the responsibility to help you to receive medical attention until you are fully recovered and can continue to work.  THE WORKER CANNOT BE REPATRIATED AND NOT BE DISCRINIMATED.  Likewise the worker has to observe the quarantine regulations. Persons who fail to follow the regulations will be fined between NT$10,000 and NT$150,000.  The Department of Health should list a budget to cover the migrant workers expenses during the forced quarantine.

 

VII. RELATED TELEPHONE HOTLINE AND WEBSITES:

 

l         The Department of Health:

Disease Information Hotline:  0800-024-582

Consulting Hotline:  0800-030-598 (8am – 10pm)

 

l         Administration Yuan:

Consulting Hotline for House Quarantine and for Compensation:  02-2397-6781, 02-2397-6782

 

l         CLA (Council of Labor Affairs):  0800-012-119 Monday – Friday 8am-9pm, Saturday – Sunday 8am – 12 noon

 

l         Center for Disease Control – SARS website:  www.cdc.gov.tw/atyp/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.

NGO

Telephone No.

1

Taiwan Association of Victims of Occupational Injuries

0800-222-428

2

Taiwan International Workers’ Association

T – 02-2932-8777

F – 02-2531-7580

3

Catholic Hope Workers’ Center

T – 03-425-5416

F – 03-427-1092

4

Migrant Workers’ Concerns Desk

T – 02-2389-5247, 2311-7764

F – 02-2371-2888

5

Hsinchu Migrants’ ConcernsDesk

T – 03-524-6961

F – 03-524-6743

6

Kaohsiung Stella Maris International Service Center

T – 07-533-0239

F – 03-524-6743

7

Taichung Pastoral Center for Filipino Migrants

T – 04-2280-3817

8

Rerum Novarum Center

T – 02-2397-1933

F – 02-2341-0106

 

Representative Offices of Labor Sending Country Governments:

1.       Thailand Trade and Economic Office

7F No. 150 Fushing North Road, Taipei City 104

T – 02-2712-1882

F – 02-2713-0042

 

2.       Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office

3F No. 65 Song Jiang Road, Taipei City 104

T – 02-2516-6626

F – 02-2504-1761

 

3.       Indonesian Economic and Trade Office

12F No. 337 Nanking East Road, Taipei City 104

T – 02-5712-4570

F – 02-2712-4575

 

4.       Manila Economic and Cultural Office

4F No. 107 Chunghsiao East Road, Taipei City

T – 02-2778-6511

F – 02-2778-4969

No.

Foreign Workers’ Counseling Centers

Telephone No.

1

Taipei City

Philippine Hotline

Indonesia Hotline

Thailand Hotline

Vietnam Hotline

02-2564-2546, 2564-3157

02-2536-1546

02-2536-1506

02-2536-1615

02-2536-1603

2

Taipei County

02-8965-1044, 8965-1014

3

Taoyuan County

03-334-4087, 334-1728

4

Miaoli County

037-363-260

5

Taichung City

04-2580-561, 2580-765

6

Taichung County

04-526-6914, 524-0131

7

Changhwa County

04-7297-228, 729-7229

8

Nantou County

049-222-347 ext.16

9

Yunlin County

05-533-8087, 533-8086

10

Chiayi County

05-277-1114, 278-4551

11

Chiayi City

02-216-2633

12

Tainan County

06-632-8407, 632-6546

13

Tainan City

06-295-1052, 390-1230

14

Kaohsiung City

07-811-7543

15

Kaohsiung County

07-733-8842

16

Pingtung County

08-734-1634

17

Ilan County

03-933-4400

18

Hualien County

03-834-2584

19

Hsinchu City

03-522-6940

20

Hsinchu County

03-552-0648

Employment Vocational and Training Administration

02-8590-0256

0800885885Philippines

0800885995Tailand

0800885958Indonesia

0800017858Vietnam

In this battle against SARS, the migrant workers face more serious problems in the Taiwan labor system, especially the caretakers and domestics helpers.  Recently, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association together with other NGOs is drafting THE HOUSEHOLD WORKERS’ LAW in order to better protect this marginalized sector of the society. 

We welcome your suggestions/comments and encourage you to visit the website: www.hurt.org.tw 

 

Translation by:  TIWA  Liza de Silva, Pina Wu,  HWC  Beat

 

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