TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — All buses operating in cities and counties in Taiwan are expected to run on electricity by 2030 as the country gears up for net-zero emissions by 2050.
The effort to phase in electric buses will pick up next year with a four-year budget of NT$8.5 billion (US$286 million). To date 8% of city and county buses are electric, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
Kuomintang Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) on Thursday (May 19) questioned the progress of the campaign, casting doubts over whether Taiwan will meet the 2025 target of 35%, or 4,700 buses, per Environmental Information Center.
The ministry has pushed for domestic production of electric buses and phasing out diesel buses. From 2023 Taiwan will introduce 1,000 electric buses annually while removing up to 11,700 diesel buses by 2030, MOTC official Lin Fu-shan (林福山) said.
The availability of charging stations appears a major hurdle, as bus services providers have complained about the lack of space to put in place such facilities, issues concerning the electric power distribution network, and opposition from local communities.
As part of the 2050 carbon-neutral blueprint, Taiwan will further promote the policy to taxis and logistics vehicles after city buses. Incentives will be rolled out to attain the objective of all new cars or motorcycles to be powered by electricity from 2040 and onward.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced that people who have contracted COVID in Taiwan do not to be listed as contacts of cases for three months and can therefore avoid additional quarantines during that period.
As the local outbreak continues to heat up, the number of confirmed and recovered cases increases. The CECC on Thursday (May 19) announced that if a COVID case has been diagnosed, recovered, and completed their isolation period, it is not necessary to list them as a contact of new cases.
However, if there is a possibility of infection, it is recommended they test for COVID. Since the beginning of this year, the cumulative number of local COVID cases has exceeded 950,000, according to CECC statistics.
At a press conference that afternoon, Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the Central Epidemic Command Center's (CECC) medical response division, said that some people have described recovered patients as "invincible stars" because they will a certain degree of immunity for at least three months. Given that some recovered patients have occupations that repeatedly put them in contact with COVID cases, such as healthcare jobs, it is becoming less practical to repeatedly list recovered patients as contacts of new cases.
Lo explained that if a previously diagnosed case comes into contact with confirmed cases again within three months of the onset date of their symptoms and are asymptomatic, they no longer need to be listed as a contact. In addition, they are no longer required to undergo isolation measures such as the "3+4" and "0+7" quarantine schemes.
However, Lo reminded the public that if recovered cases come in contact with new cases, and suspected symptoms of COVID appear after exposure, they are recommended to take a rapid antigen or PCR test. If the result is negative. Lo said there is no need for them to be listed as a case contact.
Lo pointed out that after a COVID case is released from isolation, they are in principle regarded as non-infectious, and if the virus is detected again in their system within the next three months, most will not be judged to have new infections. When asked by the media about the occurrence of reinfections, Lo explained that as of Monday (May 16), at total of 457 cases diagnosed with a previous variant of COVID within the past two years have been found to have a second infection caused by Omicron.
If a COVID case tests positive after their quarantine has ended, Lo said that they will be considered non-infectious, additional tests are not necessary for the next three months, and they will not be subject to the seven-day quarantine required for new cases. Lo said the only exception to this would be a situation in which a doctor suspects the patient is suffering from reinfection.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Migrant workers who contract COVID will receive 50% of their salary if they take sick leave, but can apply for labor insurance benefits.
Like all Taiwan residents, foreign employees who test positive for COVID must undergo seven days of home care and seven days of self-health management. Workers can take up to 30 days of sick leave, but they will only receive 50% of their salary.
If they take annual leave, they will receive their full salary but will be limited by the number of leave days they have accrued. The third option is to take personal leave, but they will not receive any pay in this case.
On Wednesday (May 18), the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) posted a notice on its 1955PH LINE account announcing that migrant workers who must take sick leave because they have contracted COVID and have entered home quarantine (effective April 8, 2022), a hospital, "government quarantine center," or enhanced quarantine hotel, can apply for injury or sickness benefits starting from the fourth day they take leave from work for the illness.
A representative from the WDA told Taiwan News that individuals with labor insurance can apply via the Bureau of Labor Insurance (BLI) office. The representative said workers become eligible for these benefits if they are unable to work because of their COVID infection for four or more days.
As to the amount of compensation they can receive for injury and sickness, the representative said payment is 50% of the insured worker's average monthly salary, divided by 30. For example, a worker who was diagnosed on May 2 and is subject to a 10-day quarantine, missed work as they underwent home care until May 11.
If their monthly salary is NT$45,800 (US$1,544), their occupational injury and illness benefit would be calculated by dividing NT$45,800 by 30, which equals NT$1,526, and multiplying by seven days (starting from the fourth day of quarantine), which amounts to NT$10,687.
However, on May 9, the mandatory quarantine for COVID cases was shortened to seven days and this second example is based on the current seven-day quarantine. If a worker was diagnosed on May 9, they must undergo quarantine until May 15.
If the monthly salary is the same, the NT$1,526 in daily insurance benefits would be multiplied by four days (starting from the fourth day of quarantine), resulting in NT$6,104 in total benefits. For more information on the application for labor insurance benefits for workers who test positive for COVID, visit the BLI website.
In addition, workers who have been diagnosed as having a permanent disability after contracting COVID can apply for permanent disability benefits. If a worker dies from COVID, their dependents can apply for survivor benefits.
There is a five-year deadline to apply for these benefits.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The skeletal remains of a man who embarked on a solo hiking trip up Daxueshan (大雪山) in central Taiwan last September were found in April, the Taichung City Fire Bureau told reporters on Wednesday (May 18).
The hiker, surnamed Lo (羅), set out to climb Daxueshan in Shei-Pa National Park via Daxueshan 230 Forest Road. He last sent out a message on Oct. 3, saying that his planned destination would be Wuling Farm. He was not heard from again.
Lo’s family posted on social media asking hikers to help find him, but no one reported seeing him.
Reporters cited the fire bureau as saying that it received a report from a mountain patrol from the Dongshih Forest District Office on April 26 that they had found a man's skeletal remains on Mountain Fuwan West Peak. The bureau dispatched eight workers to the mountain.
The workers moved the body to a location suitable for airlifting. After the remains were airlifted, police confirmed that they belonged to Lo, who had been missing for seven months.
The firefighters said Lo's remains were not found on a regular hiking trail. Lo was called “Detergent Brother” (洗衣粉哥) by others in a mountaineering club on Facebook because he reportedly wore leather shoes and suit pants and carried detergent and rice with him every time he went mountain climbing.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following reports of explosions at the Hsinchu Science Park on Thursday morning (May 19), photos shared on social media show black smoke surging from a building.
At 10:30 a.m., a user of the online forum PTT shared photos of smoke rising in the distance in a post titled “Fire at the Hsinchu Science Park?” Others quickly responded with more photos and speculated that the fire was at Air Liquide Far Eastern; one user reported hearing two explosions, while others reported flickering lights at their workplace within the science park.
One local shared videos of the fire to the Facebook group “Hsinchu People and Hsinchu Things,” confirming the fire at Air Liquide Far Eastern and warning people to stay away.
Reporters reported that several fire engines were deployed to put out the blaze. The Hsinchu office of the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) was cited as saying its power supply circuit had experienced a momentary drop in pressure, which resulted in a power outage that lasted less than one second in the Hsinchu Science Park.
No cause of the fire or injuries had been confirmed at the time of publishing. However, the Liberty Times cited a firefighter as saying a transformer had malfunctioned and caused the explosion.
The firefighter added that the amount of insulating oil in the building has made the fire difficult to contain and that the entire facility is engulfed in flames. Over 100 firefighters are on the scene.
Established in 1987, Air Liquide Far Eastern is a joint venture between France's Air Liquide Group and Taiwan’s Far Eastern Group. The company supplies a variety of gases to Taiwan’s electronics, medical, and other industries as well as for home care.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An expert from the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) predicted that while the current outbreak will begin to ebb in mid-June, life in Taiwan will not fully return to relative normalcy until September.
During an interview with BaoDao Radio host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on Thursday (May 19), CECC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) said that in the experience of other countries since the pandemic began, COVID case trend lines have either seen a sudden peak or an "earthworm" shape with many smaller highs and lows. Lee said most Asian countries are "earthworms" in terms of their case count graphs, and although their outbreaks last longer than those of Western countries, they are less of a burden on the healthcare system.
Lee said Taiwanese have a high awareness of self-initiated epidemic prevention and that the number of people frequenting public places has dropped by 20% amid the Omicron surge. Lee predicted that this behavior could result in more of a "hill" shape than a steep "peak" on the epidemic curve.
The advantage of this is that it will preserve healthcare capacity, but it will also drag out the epidemic timeline, according to Lee.
The main purpose of epidemic prevention is to reduce the risk of severe illness and death, he said. This not only protects the public and medical institutions but also lessens the impact on the rights and interests of people who need medical treatment, he added.
As for when the current outbreak will reach its peak, Lee said there are many factors affecting the number of infections, such as people's epidemic prevention behaviors. The one thing he said he is certain of is that as soon as the public loosens epidemic prevention measures, cases will rapidly rise again.
Lee acknowledged it is possible the slow rise in confirmed cases will prolong the amount of time it takes to reach herd immunity. He pointed out that the recent outbreaks in Japan and South Korea lasted about four months, one month longer than in Europe and the U.S.
Lee said the epidemic trend in Taiwan may be more of a "hill" that slowly rises before gradually dropping. Responding to estimates that the outbreak will cool down in mid-June, Lee said he believes that month may be a "turning point" but stressed it does not mean all epidemic prevention measures can then be restored to normal living standards right away.
Lee predicted it will not be until September that life can return to the level of normality currently seen in Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced that the gunman behind the deadly shooting of a Taiwanese church in the California county has been charged with murder and that the death penalty is being considered in his case.
At a press conference on Tuesday (May 17), Spitzer said that David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, of Las Vegas, has been charged with 10 counts, including first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, and four counts of possessing destructive devices with the intent to kill or harm. He stated that these charges incur penalties that include death and life without the possibility of parole.
The murder charge is for fatally shooting John Cheng, 52, a physician who tried to subdue Chou as he began firing on parishioners. Five other people also suffered wounds, including four men and one woman.
The district attorney made it clear that he is not ruling out the death penalty and argued that Chou's intention was to conceal himself in plain view before attacking the parishioners. "He did everything he could to fit in, to make himself one of them," said Spitzer.
“This monster crafted a diabolical plan to lock the church doors with his victims inside in order to lead what he thought were innocent lambs to slaughter." Lauding the brave efforts by Cheng and other congregants, he said Chou did not realize that "the parishioners at the church that day weren’t lambs — they were lions, and they fought back against the evil that tried to infiltrate their house of worship."
Officers recovered two 9 mm semiautomatic pistols, which had been legally purchased in Las Vegas in 2015 and 2017. They also discovered four Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices that had been placed inside the church.
Spitzer said on reporters on Tuesday that he believed Chou had planned "to kill everybody and then blow up the church."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A prominent psychiatrist pointed out on Tuesday (May 17) that based on COVID case numbers over the past week, infections appear to be plateauing in northern Taiwan while steadily increasing in southern parts of the country.
Shen Cheng-nan (沈政男) noted on his Facebook page that there have been 60,000 daily COVID cases reported in Taiwan over the past six days. He observed that over this period, cases have been steadily declining in Taipei, New Taipei, Keelung, and Taoyuan, while infections have been rising in Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Shen argued that the decline in the north was caused by a drop in the Rt value, which shows how fast a virus is spreading at a particular point in time, to about 1.3. He theorized that most socially active people in northern Taiwan have been infected, while many in central and southern Taiwan have yet to be exposed.
He predicted that if crowd flows increase, less active people will also be infected. He stated that initially, the north accounted for 80% of new cases, but this ratio has dropped to 60%.
Shen said that just as cases in the north are falling, cases in the south are rising. He asserted that cases in the central and southern regions will soon surpass those in the north and eventually lead to a more balanced distribution of infections nationwide.
He estimated that by May 28, the number of new cases in Taiwan will rise to more than 100,000 per day.
During a meeting of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee in the Legislative Yuan, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) that day was asked to comment on Shen's theory that cases are shifting southward. Chen denied that infections are moving specifically from north to south but conceded that public transportation will inevitably lead to the spread of the virus across the country.
When asked to comment on Shen's prediction that cases will rise to 100,000 per day by May 28, Chen said the situation is constantly changing and that relevant data can be used for reference. However, he also emphasized that although "it is not easy to provide such a precise estimate, it is also good to a have concept (of potential numbers)."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced 85,310 local COVID cases on Wednesday (May 18).
CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) also confirmed 46 imported cases, bringing the total case count to 981,141. The 41 deaths brought the country's COVID death toll to 1,176.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A motorcyclist died on Monday morning (May 16) after slamming his scooter into the back of a truck temporarily parked on the motorcycle lane of a roadway in Taitung City.
The 56-year-old motorcyclist, surnamed Tung (董), was riding on the city’s Zhonghua Road when the accident happened. He was suspected to not be paying attention before crashing into the truck whose driver parked temporarily on the side of the street.
When an ambulance arrived, the emergency medical service (EMS) workers found that the victim had lost vital signs. He later died in the hospital.
Surveillance video shows that the scooter rider not breaking at all and, at a very high speed, slamming directly into the back of the truck parked in the motorcycle lane of the roadway. The impact sent the motorcyclist flying before landing in the middle of the street while the scooter remained stuck under the back of the truck.
According to a police investigation, the driver of the truck surnamed Hung (洪) was on his way to work and stopped on the side of the roadway to buy betel nuts. The cause of the accident is still under investigation by police.
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