TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Among the new border control measures that will kick in on Tuesday (Dec. 1) in Taiwan is a penalty for providing a falsified coronavirus report.
Individuals who show a fake negative COVID-19 test result upon arriving in the country will be fined between NT$10,000 (US$351) and NT$150,000 in line with the Communicable Disease Control Act, said the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
All inbound and transit passengers are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 NAT, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test within three days prior to departure. There are currently three types of passengers not required to submit a report: those coming to Taiwan for emergencies, those flying out from places where self-paid tests are not available, and specific cases that have obtained permits from the CECC.
This rule will be in effect between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28, 2021.
The fine was introduced following reports of multiple cases of Indonesian migrant workers presenting negative results upon entering Taiwan but tested positive afterward. The reports, submitted voluntarily, could be problematic due to the test procedures or because the tests were conducted when the virus was in its latent period, reporters quoted CECC Spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) as saying.
The coronavirus task force said it will work out methods of identifying the validity of passengers’ health reports. The public is also encouraged to report instances of COVID-19 test results being tampered with.
In light of the spike in cases among Indonesian workers, the CECC has banned eight agencies from importing laborers from the Southeast Asian country. Chuang said Taiwan is testing Indonesians when they end their quarantines because the majority of them are employed as caregivers, whose work necessitates extra disease control measures.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A magnitude 5.1 earthquake jolted northeastern Taiwan at 9:42 p.m. tonight (Nov. 29), according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).
The epicenter of the temblor was 70.3 kilometers east-northeast of Hualien County Hall at a focal depth of 32.9 km, according to CWB data. Taiwan uses an intensity scale of one to seven, which gauges the degree to which a quake is felt at a specific location.
The quake’s intensity registered as a 3 in Yilan County and a 2 in Hualien County and Taipei City. A lesser intensity of 1 was recorded in New Taipei City, Nantou County, Taichung County, Miaoli County, Chiayi County, Changhua County, and Yunlin County.
No injuries resulting from either quake had been reported at the time of publication.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A government official responsible for making investments for Taiwan's Labor Insurance Fund and a private asset company executive are facing legal trouble for allegedly colluding to drive up the share price of a certain stock.
According to an investigation conducted by prosecutors and the Agency Against Corruption, a PJ Asset Management Co. investment executive surnamed Chiu (邱) in July allegedly began to bribe Bureau of Labor Funds (BLF) Domestic Investment Division Director Yu Nai-wen (游迺文) to use BLF accounts to buy shares of a certain company at a cost higher than market value so as to drive up the price.
The investigation found that more than 400 shares of the company had been purchased in that manner.
According to investigators, Yu’s average monthly credit card expenditures ranged from NT$150,000 (US$5,000) to NT$220,000 between September of 2012 and September of this year. It was also discovered that he had deposited nearly NT$9 million into his bank account during this period.
Chiu posted NT$300,000 bail on Friday (Nov. 27), while Yu is still detained.
The BLF issued a press release on Friday to state that its investment mechanism is not controlled by a single person and that BLF monies are invested in various debt and equities markets, both foreign and domestic, to achieve stable, long-term profits.
BRUSSELS (AFP) - An Iranian diplomat goes on trial in Belgium on Friday (Nov 27) accused of plotting to bomb an opposition rally outside Paris, in a case that has stoked tensions with Teheran.
In June 2018 Belgian authorities thwarted what they said was an attempt to smuggle explosives to France to attack a meeting of one of Iran's exiled opposition movements.
Later that year, the French government accused Iran's intelligence service of being behind the operation, a charge the Islamic republic has furiously denied.
Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces life in prison if convicted.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), which includes the People's Mojahedin of Iran or (MEK), organised a rally in Villepinte outside Paris on June 30, 2018.
Several well-known international figures - including former US and British officials and Franco-Colombian former senator Ingrid Betancourt - and NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi were to attend.
On the same morning, Belgian police intercepted a Belgian-Iranian couple driving from Antwerp and carrying half-a-kilo of TATP explosives and a detonator.
The arrested couple, 36-year-old Nassimeh Naami and 40-year-old Amir Saadouni, join Assadi in the dock, alongside another alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, 57.
All four are charged with attempting to carry out a terrorist attack and taking part in the activity of a terrorist group. All face life sentences.
Assadi was arrested while he was travelling through Germany where he had no immunity from prosecution, being outside of the country of his diplomatic posting.
Arefani, an Iranian poet who had lived in Belgium for more than a decade, was arrested in France in 2018 after Belgium issued an European arrest warrant.
Counsel representing those targeted by the alleged attack say Arefani was close to Assadi, said to be the architect of the plot, and point to an Austrian SIM card found in his possession.
The two men deny any connection.
"We are looking at a clear case of state terrorism," said lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier, who is representing the interests of the NCRI, along with French colleague William Bourdon.
Mr Dimitri de Beco, defence counsel for Assadi, has accused the civil plaintiffs of trying to turn the case into a political trial on behalf of the opposition movement.
According to Iran expert Francois Nicoullaud - a former French ambassador to Teheran - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was surprised to learn about the failed attack.
"Visiting Europe at the time, he was absolutely furious to learn about this intelligence service operation, on which he hadn't been consulted," the diplomat told reporters.
LONDON (AFP) - The British government said on Friday (Nov 27) it has asked its independent medicines regulator to assess AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine as part of the formal approval process for the drug to be rolled out by the end of the year.
More than 1.4 million people have died since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, and three drug developers – Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University – are currently applying for approval for their vaccines to be used as early as December.
AstraZeneca has completed Phase III clinical trials of its vaccine, the last stage before regulatory approval.
But under British rules, the government must also ask the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to green light the drug.
"We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Britain has secured access to 100 million doses of the vaccine produced by the British drug manufacturer in partnership with the University of Oxford.
The department of health has said it expects four million doses of the shot to be ready for Britain by the end of the year and 40 million by the end of March 2021.
Earlier on Thursday, AstraZeneca said further research was needed on the vaccine, but the additional testing was unlikely to affect the approval process.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has shown an average 70 per cent effectiveness. But that rate jumped to 90 per cent when an initial half-dose then a full dose was given, similar to that in rival vaccines in development by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
US scientists have said the higher rate of effectiveness came during tests in people aged 55 and under, and was discovered by accident during the clinical trials.
"Now that we’ve found what looks like a better efficacy, we have to validate this, so we need to do an additional study," AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot told reporters.
The UK government has already formally asked the MHRA to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for its suitability.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said on Thursday (Nov. 26) it is working on new regulations to stop Taiwanese nationals living overseas from taking advantage of the healthcare system.
The new rules under consideration would only allow those living overseas for more than two years and who have had their household registration automatically suspended to temporarily halt their health insurance payments, said Lee Po-chang (李伯璋), director general of the NHIA, CNA reported. Lee added that national health insurance (NHI) coverage can be resumed six months after returning to Taiwan.
Those affected by the new regulations can also resume coverage by paying the premiums for the period it was suspended, with the maximum back payment capped at five years. Over 170,000 Taiwanese living abroad would be affected by the new changes, Lee said.
According to the current rules, there are three categories for citizens living overseas: those who go abroad for six months to two years, those who are abroad for two to four years, and those who are not in the country for over four years.
Current regulations allow Taiwanese living abroad for more than six months to two years to temporarily suspend payment of their health insurance premiums. The problem is that some of these people then come back to Taiwan when they need treatment and are allowed to temporarily resume NHI coverage by only paying a fraction of the premiums missed while abroad.
Citizens who leave Taiwan for two to four years have their household registration automatically suspended which means they do not qualify for national health insurance coverage. Insurance coverage is restored after household registration is reactivated.
Those living abroad for more than four years and who have had their household registration suspended can restore their NHI coverage six months after they return to the country.
According to NHIA statistics, the most common reason for overseas Taiwanese who are gone for six months to two years and return to Taiwan for medical treatment is for dental care, followed by acute upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, eye inflammation, and upper respiratory tract infections.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) announced Friday (Nov. 27) more stringent mask rules will be implemented next month in line with new regulations set out by the coronavirus task force.
Starting Dec. 1, visitors are required to wear a mask upon entering THSR stations. The rule applies to the entire area of the stations, including the lobby, ticket booths, and other zones.
Previously, passengers were asked to put on a mask when entering the gates and waiting to board trains. Masks can be temporarily removed when eating or drinking, according to THSR.
Body temperature measuring has been put in place across the THSR network, with those logging 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher, twice, to be denied access to the transportation service. They will be advised to seek medical help or return home and rest.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on Nov. 18 a host of COVID-19 control measures to take effect in December due to the growing risk of catching the virus during winter. Masks will become mandatory at eight types of venues, including medical institutions, public transportation, places of “consumption activities,” educational facilities, exhibitions and athletic events, leisure and recreational venues, worship centers, and places where people conduct business.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A New Taipei woman was sentenced to death on Wednesday (Nov. 25) for murdering her two young children, prompting her attorney to criticize the court's decision as being "cold-blooded" and pledge that to file an appeal.
Earlier this year, the 30-year-old single mother, surnamed Wu (吳), who was struggling financially drugged her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter and then strangled them to death. The New Taipei District Court on Wednesday ruled that as the defendant had not shown any remorse for her "abominable and inhumane acts," it was sentencing her to death for homicide.
According to prosecutors, Wu moved in with her brother's family in 2019 after getting divorced and losing her job. On Feb. 13 of this year, she became involved in a heated argument with her brother and sister-in-law.
That night, she checked into a hotel and tried to smother her children using pillows, but because they struggled, she was unable to kill them. Two days later, she again took the children to the hotel, where she gave them sleeping pills before strangling them to death.
Wu then sent a text message to her ex-husband that read: "I have left. I have gone with the children. Otherwise, they would be lonely on the road to the underworld." She then overdosed on the same sedatives she had given to her children.
However, her former spouse hurried to the hotel and called for an ambulance. After she was rushed to a hospital, doctors were able to save her.
After carrying out an investigation, prosecutors charged her with murder. During the initial court hearing, Wu confessed to the crime and said:
"I have been raising them (on my own) for seven years, and today I took them away because I feel that I have been looked down upon over the past seven years. I am alone in the face of all the public pressure and all kinds of strange stares, including the difficulty of finding a job. I wonder why I have had to care for these children on my own these past seven years. When they are sick and uncomfortable, I have to care for them on my own. I have to take care of them 24 hours a day. I have no freedom of my own."
The judges came to the conclusion that due to temporary setbacks, Wu had ignored her children’s affection for her, ignored their tears and struggling, and unilaterally decided to end their lives.
The judges deemed that Wu's actions were "Extremely cruel, cold-blooded, extremely bad, and seriously distorted the basic values of human existence. In displaying such contempt for her children's lives, she demonstrated an extremely arrogant, selfish, and ignorant character devoid of humanity."
The judges ruled that although Wu had confessed to the crime, she had never admitted her mistake to her family, apologized, or even tried to justify the murders. They claimed she had not reflected on the pain she had inflicted on family members, nor had she thoroughly reviewed her own "psychological defects," "loss of humanity," and "antisocial personality."
The court concluded that Wu had committed an unforgivable crime and that it was only natural that the death penalty be imposed.
Wu's attorney, Liao Hui-fang (廖蕙芳) on Thursday (Nov. 26) took to Facebook to criticize the court's decision as biased, populist, and "cold-blooded" and vowed to appeal.
Supermodel Sonia Sui (隋棠) that same day uploaded a post on Facebook in which she criticized people in power for being lenient with those who commit crimes such as driving under the influence of alcohol, child molestation, and parking in handicapped spaces. However, she said when it comes to women faced with societal pressures, they hand down the harshest punishments.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A man surnamed Lee (李) was killed on a freeway in Hsinchu Wednesday morning (Nov. 25) when he was hit by an SUV after exiting his vehicle to inspect the damage from a preceding accident.
Lee, 33, was heading southbound on the Hsinchu section of National Freeway 3 around 2 a.m. on Wednesday when he was hit by a flatbed truck, according to reporters.
In the moments following the accident, a white SUV coming from behind failed to dodge Lee, killing him instantly. The driver of the SUV and its passengers sustained various degrees of injury.
Police urged people involved in minor accidents on the highways to move their vehicles to a safe place as soon as possible after quickly taking photos and, if possible, marking their positions. The relocation should be done before calling the authorities so as to avoid a second collision, the police added.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese citizens 1.55 meters and 1.56 meters tall will no longer be allowed to escape military conscription, reports said Wednesday (Nov. 25).
The Ministry of National Defense said the revision of the height limits for new recruits was the result of changes in how warfare was conducted.
People taller than 1.96 meters would still be turned down, while eyesight factors and body mass index (BMI) would also play a part in who was accepted or refused.
The minimum BMI stays at 16.5, but the maximum limit allowed by the military would rise from the current 31.5 to 35 under the new rules to be introduced Jan. 22. The BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by his height in meters squared. A range from 18.5 to 24.9 is generally considered healthy.
The military described the alterations as a matter of fairness inspired by a changing strategic environment. Taiwan’s population has been ageing, while the United States has asked the government to make extra efforts to maintain the island’s defense capabilities.