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Second death reported in suspected food poisoning at Polam Kopitiam in Taipei

In Taipei, a man in his mid-60s is the second victim of suspected food poisoning from Polam Kopitiam, a Malaysian-themed vegetarian restaurant. He and others fell ill after consuming char kway teow and other dishes at one of its outlets.



TAIPEI: A man in his mid-60s becomes the second victim of a suspected food poisoning outbreak originating from a branch of the Malaysian-themed vegetarian restaurant Polam Kopitiam in Taipei.

The man, who ate a meal at the vegetarian restaurant on 19 March, succumbed to his condition on Wednesday (27 March) morning at Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital.

Hospital Vice Superintendent, Hung Tzu-jen (洪子仁), confirmed the demise, attributing it to multiple organ failures after resuscitation efforts proved futile.

It is suspected that the deceased and several others who became ill consumed char kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish, along with other items, at the restaurant located in the Far Eastern Department Store in Xinyi District.

According to a Taiwan news agency, the incident has left at least eight individuals who dined at the establishment falling ill, and seeking medical attention over the past week, experiencing symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

Two out of the eight affected individuals have passed away, with the second victim succumbing on Wednesday (27 March).

The other casualty was a man in his late 30s who patronized the restaurant on 22 March and passed away two days later, also after consuming char kway teow.

He was initially taken to the emergency room of New Taipei City Hospital in the afternoon of 23 March, exhibiting symptoms of repeated vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness, as stated by the hospital in a statement.

Following treatment, the individual showed improvement, being able to mobilize normally and was discharged from the hospital later that night.

However, the individual later sought emergency care at MacKay Memorial Hospital in Taipei the following day, 24 March, and unfortunately passed away there.

The New Taipei hospital said it reported the suspected food poisoning case to the “competent authorities” on the evening of 23 March.

That was confirmed by the New Taipei Department of Health, which said Tuesday that it received a report from the hospital regarding a suspected food poisoning case and passed the information to the Taipei Department of Health on 24 March.

Taipei Department of Health commenced an investigation immediately, uncovering several concerning findings at the restaurant premises, including suspected cockroach droppings on dishes, improper knife storage, and failure to provide employee health records.

Following these discoveries, the Taipei Department of Health ordered the restaurant to rectify the identified shortcomings by 27 March.

However, subsequent reports of additional food poisoning cases linked to the restaurant on 19 and 21 March prompted authorities to order its immediate closure.

In response to the escalating situation, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, accompanied by law enforcement and health authorities, seized surveillance footage and gathered evidence at the restaurant’s premises early Wednesday (27 March).

A special prosecutor has been assigned to oversee the investigation.

Deputy Health Minister Victor Wang announced that the central government would intervene in the case, with the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration spearheading the examination of food samples and related materials to expedite the identification of the cause.

Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) on Wednesday (27 March) ordered all Taipei branches of Polam Kopitiam closed as prosecutors investigating the case.

Upon search on Google map, it was found that the restaurant is now listed as “temporarily closed.”

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