TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan confirmed 10 people as new Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases Thursday (April 2), bringing the total for the country up to 339.
As on previous days, most of the new patients, eight in all, were imported cases, while two were the result of domestic infections, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) at its daily news conference.
The total also includes the 50 patients who have been dismissed from hospital, as well as five deaths.
One of the domestic cases, No. 335, was a man in his 50s who had been in contact with patient No. 291 and who had sought medical treatment after suffering from diarrhea.
The other domestic case, No. 336, was a woman in her 40s who worked as a security guard in her community and had no history of foreign travel. Her workplace has been disinfected, the CECC said.
Of the new imported cases, No. 331 had been on a tour of South America with No. 259, while No. 333 had visited relatives in Denmark with his wife.
No. 334 was a female student in Canada who had traveled in the United States with three others who have previously been confirmed as coronavirus patients, and No. 337 had been studying in Great Britain. The CECC named No. 338 as the fifth member of a tour group that had returned from Austria and the Czech Republic.
Two of the new patients had been working overseas: No. 330 in the U.S. and No. 339 in Indonesia.
A budget of NT$4 billion (US$131 million) to help disadvantaged seniors and children during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak, is expected to be introduced before the end of April, a government official said Thursday (April 2).
The NT$4 million budget is part of the NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.7 billion) economic relief package announced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Wednesday, said Su Chao-Ju (蘇昭如), deputy chief in the Department of Social Assistance and Social Work at the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The subsidies will benefit 870,000 seniors, children and youths with disabilities, designated as belonging to low and middle-income families, or those who currently receive other livelihood and educational assistance, according to Su.
Some low and middle-income households that were not covered by earlier government assistance programs are included in the new aid package, she said.
Each beneficiary can expect to receive NT$4,500 before the end of the month, Su said, adding that the new subsidies, consist of government aid for a three-month period and will be deposited directly into each beneficiary's personal account without the need for an application.
Restaurants across Taiwan are reorganizing their spaces to comply with the social distancing guidelines issued Tuesday by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) as part of the country's efforts to contain the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). In keeping with the CECC's advice that people should keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other indoors and at least one meter outdoors, two major restaurant chains said they will now leave an extra space between customers at their tables.
With a space the width of an empty seat between customers, restaurant tables will each seat half as many people as before, Wowprime Corp. (王品集團) and Feastogether Corp. said. Furthermore, Wowprime Corp. stated that it would ask its 280 restaurants to rearrange the space between tables to comply with the CECC's social distancing regulations.
The CECC announced the guidelines Tuesday and expanded on them Wednesday, saying that if businesses cannot implement the social distancing rules, they should close temporarily. Following the announcement, several other restaurants said they were preparing to make adjustments. They include TTFB Company Limited (瓦城泰統集團), famous in Taiwan for its Thai cuisine; Brasserie, a buffet restaurant at the Regent Hotel (台北晶華酒店); and Hi-Lai Foods Inc. (漢來美食).
A few others, however, expressed worry that the new social distancing regulations will cripple their business, which is already sluggish due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tofu Restaurant Group (豆腐餐廳集團) said that while it would do its best to comply with the CECC's guidelines, it feared that its revenue would drop by half in these difficult times.
Nonetheless, Tofu Restaurant Group said it would not resort to furloughs or salary cuts for its employees, but rather would try to boost its online orders and take-out sales.
As restaurants and beverage shops are expected to be among the hardest hit businesses in the country due to the coronavirus, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has allocated NT$265 million (US$8.75 million) in bailout funds for that sector, in the ministry's NT$20.491 billion economic relief package.
The funds will be used primarily to help restaurants shift to e-commerce and delivery platforms, the MOEA said, adding that eligible restaurants and retailers can apply from April 10 to go digital.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A man who used gasoline to burn five relatives to death during Lunar New Year’s Eve in Feb. of 2016, including his parents and a caregiver, has been executed, reports said Wednesday (April 1).
While capital punishment still receives widespread public support in Taiwan, executions have become rare, and many in President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) ruling Democratic Progressive Party want to move toward its abolition. Wednesday evening’s execution was only the second since Tsai first became president in May 2016.
Weng Jen-hsien's (翁仁賢) sentence had been repeatedly upheld, as judges said he had shown no remorse and still posed a threat to the surviving members of his family. Weng, 54, had harbored a grudge against his parents and seven siblings because as the youngest brother, he had been left to do most of the work on the family farm in Taoyuan City.
Just before the Lunar New Year holiday in 2016, Weng reportedly bought gasoline, which he bottled separately. When his relatives were gathered for the traditional Lunar New Year’s Eve party, he entered the room and doused them with the gasoline before setting them on fire. His parents, their caregiver, two cousins, and a cousin’s wife perished, while five other relatives survived with burns.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — People who evade quarantine requirements will be transferred to a quarantine center and be presented with a bill for food and lodging, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday (April 1).
The number of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in Taiwan has been rising gradually to 329 as of Wednesday, but concerns have been raised about citizens not obeying quarantine rules.
As soon as someone is found outside breaking the regulations, he will be forced to stay at a quarantine center instead of being allowed to continue at home, the CECC emphasized.
In addition, the violator will also be charged for the food and lodging during the 14-day period. The payments will come on top of losing official compensation payments and of fines, the CECC said.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A survey of students posted by a British woman on Facebook found that Taiwan is only one of six countries in the world where schools are still open, amid the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Jennie Gardner, a teacher based in Sweden, on Monday (March 30) posted a survey in the Facebook group English Teachers asking the simple question "In which countries are schools still open as normal?" Within just two hours, teachers in about 150 countries said that classes had been suspended, even in nations where fewer coronavirus cases have been reported.
Incredibly, only teachers from six countries reported schools still being open, including Australia, Singapore, Sweden, Cuba, Tajikistan, and Taiwan. However, teachers from three of these countries later clarified that face-to-face learning has been eliminated or classes have been severely curtailed.
Australian schools were reportedly still open, but most students are said to be doing coursework from home. Singapore was listed as having classes just one day a week.
Sweden has closed its universities and high schools, but elementary schools are still in session. That leaves Taiwan with just Cuba and Tajikistan with schools at all grade levels officially open.
One Taiwanese teacher pointed out that all schools are open, with the exception of one high school that was closed because a student had contracted the virus. However, a number of classes have been canceled or moved online at six universities after they reported confirmed cases of the disease.
A Bloomberg report published on March 28 stated that 160 countries have closed schools, meaning that nearly 90 percent of the world's students are no longer attending class. The report listed Signapore, Australia, Sweden, Taiwan, and a few U.S. states as the last places where school is still in session.
One Taiwanese Facebook user said students were not thrilled with having to keep going to class. "Taiwanese students are not happy because we still have to go to school every day." But another group member responded, "Indeed. Parents are happy though."
As the highly infectious disease continues to spread across the globe and evidence mounts that it effects a broader age range than previously reported in communist China, authorities, including Taiwan, are finding it increasingly hard to justify keeping the schools open.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Everyone taking trains and inter-city buses in Taiwan should wear masks beginning Wednesday (April 1), while temperature checks are being implemented at train stations, airports, and ports, among other areas.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) on Tuesday (March 31) told reporters that all travelers on Taiwan High-Speed Rail trains (THSR), Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) trains, and buses should wear face masks. Lin emphasized that both mass transit employees and travelers must follow strict epidemic protocols during the coming Qingming holiday to keep the disease in check.
Lin said that infrared sensors and temperature guns will be used to check peoples' temperatures at 12 THSR stations, 239 TRA stations, 1,298 post offices, airports, ports, freeway service areas, and bus transfer stations.. Lin emphasized that passengers taking mass transit should don masks before entering the station.
The minister added that passengers who are found to have a forehead temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or an ear temperature of 38 degrees will be barred from boarding public transport. Local city governments will be implementing mask requirements on Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and city buses in the coming days.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) confirmed on Tuesday (March 31) that one of its students has been confirmed as having the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), making the school the sixth university in Taiwan to have a verified case of the disease.
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two local cases. Among the local infections was case No. 322, a male university student in his 20s.
At a subsequent press conference that same afternoon, NTNU announced that on March 30 the school was informed that a student in his senior year had tested positive for COVID-19. The university said that it is cooperating with the CECC investigating the student's recent contacts and has begun implementing epidemic control measures.
NTNU Office of Student Affairs Director Lin Mei-chun (林玫君) said that all courses taken by the student have been changed to online and long-distance learning courses. All students who came into contact with the man have been moved out of their dormitories and told to undergo home quarantine.
The student had not traveled overseas recently, nor had he taken courses at other universities. Officials have estimated the number of teachers and students who came into contact with the man, but the CECC has not released the number.
Lin said the school's epidemic prevention measures will now include disinfecting often-touched surfaces such as handrails and elevator buttons. During the Qingming holiday break, campus-wide disinfection will be carried out.
When classes resume next week, the school will continue to cooperate with the CECC's epidemic prevention guidelines and called on faculty and staff to wear masks, wash hands frequently, and observe other protective measures. With the addition of NTNU, the number of universities with confirmed coronavirus cases now stands at six, including National Cheng Kung University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chengchi University, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, and Shih Chien University.
While most of the cases at the five other universities were imported, the NTNU student is a local case. An investigation is ongoing as to how the student contracted the disease.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (March 31) announced 16 more cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to 322.
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced 16 new cases of COVID-19. Of the new cases, 14 were imported and two were domestic, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 322 in Taiwan.
Chen said the two local cases were a man in his 70s (the 307th case) and a male in his 20s (the 322nd case). Neither of whom had traveled abroad, but the 307th case did attend a dinner party with the 122nd case, who had traveled to Turkey.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Taiwan's total number of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rose to 306, Shih Chien University (實踐大學) confirmed that one of its part-time instructors was among the individuals infected.
During a daily press conference Monday afternoon (March 30), Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported eight new cases and two deaths. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) also pointed out that one new patient, No. 301, was a man in his 30s who had visited the U.S. between Feb. 20 and March 2 before returning to Taiwan.
Chen said that the man had arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on March 2 and started to develop symptoms of the coronavirus four days later. Chen said the man's condition gradually worsened, and he was referred to health authorities four times after visiting the clinic.
On Monday evening, Shih Chien University confirmed that case No. 301 was an instructor at the school and that the 21 individuals, including nine students and one faculty member, who are believed to have come into close contact with him have been placed under home quarantine. The university said the teacher is only responsible for one course and has been on campus eight times since returning to the country.
According to reporters, the CECC decided to require Taiwanese who returned from Europe and the U.S. between March 3-14 to quarantine, but the teacher was able to avoid the retroactive quarantine because he arrived on March 2, before a travel warning to the U.S. had been issued.
Shih Chien University has been fully sanitized since Monday under the supervision of the Taipei City Government.