TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Parking lots at Taiwan’s popular tourist spots are at full capacity as Taiwanese enjoy their second day of the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.
Places including Hehuan Mountain, Sun Moon Lake, Xitou, and other well-known scenic spots were packed with out-of-towners trying to make the most of their four-day break. The Taroko National Park Management Office said the number of visitors to Hehuan Mountain on Sunday (Sept. 19) was more than the day before.
The Puli Public Works Department said that parking lots at the mountain were full by between 6 and 7 a.m., adding that at Wuling, some people parked illegally, causing traffic jams.
The department also discouraged people planning a one-day trip from coming to the area via Provincial Highway 14, instead urging them to visit a different scenic spot. For those planning a two-day tour in the Cingjing area, it advised people to come after 3 p.m. to avoid being stuck in a car for a long period of time.
The Nantou County police station stated that during holidays, there will usually be an increase in traffic at places such as Hehuan Mountain Wuling, Qingjing, Qingqing Grassland, Sun Moon Lake, Xitou, and Shanlinxi.
In response to the surge of vehicles, the Nantou County Police Department’s Renai branch stated that they will implement one-way traffic controls at the section of road between the Wuling parking lot and Hehuan Mountain and simultaneously enforce rules against illegal parking.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A man surnamed Chu has been detained for "contempt of cop" after he allegedly arranged for a funeral-style parade to celebrate news of the transfer of the former Hsinchu County Police Bureau's (HCHPB) Jhudong Precinct Chief, CNA reported on Sunday (Sept. 19).
On Thursday (Sept. 16), National Police Agency Director-General Chen Ja-chin (陳家欽) posted on Facebook to condemn the incident that took place before the HCHPB Jhudong Precinct on Wednesday (Sept. 15). According to the precinct, a day prior to Precinct Chief Chiang Chien-chung’s (江建忠) transfer, someone hired a parade consisting of a Buddha car, a centipede parade, and lion dancers to tour before its office building.
In Taiwanese culture, Buddha cars are traditionally used in funerals to guide the deceased to Sukhavati, while white lion dances are performed exclusively during funerals as the term “white lion” (白獅) is nearly homophonic to “white event” (白事), a term that refers to funerals.
The police immediately launched an investigation into the event, which they initially believed to be orchestrated by local gangs. However, Chu, a karaoke owner who was allegedly angry at Chiang for repeatedly citing his business, was detained instead.
During the investigation, the police and prosecutors discovered that Chu went into hiding after the incident and threw his destroyed phone into a river to evade the law, CNA reported. Chu was taken into custody to prevent further destruction of evidence and collusion on the facts of the case, while the four hired parade leaders were let go after interrogations.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taoyuan District Court on Saturday (Sept. 19) ordered the detention of two men who were allegedly engaged in a drag race that went wrong on Friday, with one of the cars losing control and killing two men at a roadside gathering.
The accident happened around midnight on Friday, when a speeding car driven by a man surnamed Hung (洪), 34, passed by No. 2278, Section 9, Kuaisu Road in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District.
Hung’s car drifted out of control and swerved, hitting two pedestrians who died and another two who suffered injuries.
After questioning Hung and his racing opponent Chiu (邱), police referred them to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office. After interviewing the suspects, the office applied to the district court for an order directing their detention, which the court granted on Saturday.
The district court said that Hung pleaded guilty to both negligent homicide and endangering the safety of public traffic resulting in death. However, Chiu only pleaded guilty to the former and not the latter, which the court said was not supported by statements of witnesses and surveillance video footage, CNA reported.
According to Taiwan's Criminal Code, endangering the safety of public traffic resulting in death is a felony and “the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or imprisonment for not less than seven years.”
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) confirmed at a Cabinet press conference on Thursday (Sep. 16) that 1.08 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and 640,000 AstraZeneca jabs will arrive in the country on Friday (Sept. 17).
Further details will be released at the press conference held by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) at 2 p.m.
CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said on Wednesday (Sept. 15) that the incoming Moderna doses will be allocated to those who have already received one Moderna jab and be distributed in descending order of age.
The AZ doses will depart from Thailand Friday morning and are scheduled to arrive at Taoyuan International Airport at 3:40 p.m.
According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, with the arrival of these two batches, the country will have received 17 million doses to date.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police on Tuesday (Sept. 14) arrested a woman suspected of being the head of a marijuana-selling ring in New Taipei City.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) announced that a 25-year-old woman surnamed Pan (潘) has been arrested for allegedly masterminding a sophisticated marijuana smuggling and sales ring. The woman made use of technologies such as cryptocurrency, encrypted messaging, and GPS to conceal her transactions from police.
In July, the CIB received a tip about suspicious packages and seized 2 kilograms of cannabis imported from overseas. The bureau set up a task force and began an investigation to track down the intended recipients of the contraband.
After a two-month investigation, police found that Pan, a resident of New Taipei City's Sanchong District, smokes marijuana and realized that she could purchase the class 2 narcotic from a website in the U.S. She allegedly would purchase the drugs with cryptocurrencies and then have them shipped to Taiwan concealed in tea leaf cans and biscuit boxes to evade detection.
Pan allegedly decided to begin selling the illegal drugs for a profit and recruited 12 accomplices with whom she communicated using end-to-end encryption on the messaging app Telegram. She told her accomplices to use fake names when receiving the packages to stymie efforts by police to discover their identities.
When it came to distributing the marijuana to her customers, she allegedly had her accomplices use a method known as "burying" to place the packages in unmonitored or inconspicuous places such as roadside trees, patches of grass, parks, telephone poles, and empty racks. Buyers would be provided a photo of the site where the package was to be dropped off and its GPS coordinates.
The purchases were made with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium, and Tether in an effort to evade tracking by authorities. In customs, the CIB seized five parcels containing 8 kg of dried cannabis buds with a street market value of NT$12 million (US$433,299)
On Monday, CIB officers raided Pan's home, where they found 1.2 kg of marijuana, four mobile phones, five bongs, a bottle of vaping oil, and one vaporizer. Police then arrested Pan and a 35-year-old man surnamed Ho (何).
The CIB estimates that Pan made NT$2-3 million from her illegal operation. She and the 12 other suspects are now being investigated by the Taoyuan District Prosecutor's Office for violating the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).
Pan was released on NT$300,000 bail. Prior to her arrest, Pan had built up a large following on social media with over 76,000 followers on Facebook and tens of thousands of fans on Instagram.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is tightening its regulation of the use of nitrogen in food packaging, with violators facing a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$108,372).
Expected to take effect in 2023, the amended Standards for Specification, Scope, Application and Limitation of Food Additives will include nitrogen on its list of food additives, and its use in food packaging will only be allowed when the concentration level reaches at least 99%, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday (Sept. 15).
The move was prompted by an incident in March when industrial-use nitrogen was found to be involved in the sealing process for teething wafers produced by a New Taipei-based company operating under the brand LeVic (樂扉). The event led to a recall of products and a fine of NT$1.8 million pursuant to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.
Nitrogen is commonly applied when packaging snacks like chips to extend their shelf life. Labeling it as a food additive with a purity of 99% is in line with international practices, according to the FDA.
Meanwhile, businesses that manufacture, import, or sell nitrogen are required to register for better inspection and tracking of the gas’ use. Violators will be subject to a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$3 million.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Human trials for Taiwan’s homegrown COVID vaccine developed by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (MVC) will be conducted in Colombia, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The food and drug regulator of Colombia said on Monday (Sept. 13) that Medigen and U.S.-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals have been granted permission to run clinical trials for their COVID vaccines in the country.
The trials are backed by the WHO, which selects vaccine candidates on a random basis. Colombia was chosen from a list of 20 countries, making it one of the six Latin American nations to have participated in trials for a COVID vaccine, along with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, and Mexico.
The 15-month trials for both candidates will involve 40,000 volunteers aged 16 and above who belong to high-risk groups. They will include those dwelling in high-risk areas, medical and frontline workers, and unvaccinated employees who play a role in keeping society running.
Medigen is the first of the three Taiwanese COVID vaccine manufacturers to be rolled out and has seen over 710,000 doses administered nationwide. United Biomedical Inc. (UBI) failed to secure emergency use authorization, while Adimmune on Monday announced trial plans in Indonesia.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CEEC) head indicated on Tuesday (Sept. 14) that the center is considering loosening Level 2 epidemic control restrictions when they expire on Sept. 20.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) stated Tuesday that the EVA Air pilot and kindergarten Delta cluster infections are already under control and that their impact on the community has been kept to a minimum. He pointed out that most counties and cities have reported zero confirmed cases for several days, and he therefore recommended that epidemic prevention guidelines be appropriately loosened.
Health Minister and CECC chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that afternoon that the latest outbreaks seem to have been brought under control for now, and he confirmed that he is indeed considering gradually relaxing the epidemic prevention regulations in response to lifestyle and economic needs, adding that discussions are underway. Chen said that the center is eyeing a loosening of Level 2 restrictions on their Sept. 20 expiration but that it is still gathering information and discussing the plan with various ministries.
Chen emphasized that there is no plan to tighten restrictions. Regarding the regulations about public barbecuing during the Mid-Autumn Festival by various cities and counties, Chen said that the CECC does not plan on setting a unified standard and will leave that decision up to local governments.
The center first issued a Level 2 alert on May 11, when Taiwan saw a major community outbreak of COVID cases. As cases continued to skyrocket, the CECC raised the restrictions to Level 3 on May 19.
As the number of cases began to decline significantly, the center lowered the epidemic alert level to Level 2 on July 27. The CECC has continued to extend Level 2 with numerous adjustments since that date.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (Sept. 14) thanked Japan for arranging its fifth coronavirus vaccine donation to Taiwan, adding another 500,000 jabs to the accumulated 3.4 million vaccine donations in the past three months.
On Tuesday morning, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced his country was donating another 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine to Taiwan. It will be the fifth batch of AZ vaccines Japan has provided since its first donation in June.
While continuously donating vaccines to countries in need, Japan has made great progress on raising its inoculation rate to the same level as the U.S., with more than 50% of Japanese fully vaccinated.
The nation plans to ease coronavirus restrictions in November, as a large majority of the population is expected to have received two shots by then, per the AP.
Japan and Taiwan have been cooperating closely in public health.
Last year, Taiwan donated masks and supplies to Japan for epidemic prevention.
This June, for the first time, Japan’s legislature unanimously passed a resolution to support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO), while its outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also expressed support for Taiwan's participation as an observer at the G7 summit, according to MOFA.
MOFA expressed sincere gratitude once again to Japan for its constant assistance to Taiwan in combating the COVID-19 epidemic.
“In the face of serious threats and challenges, both Taiwan and Japan have shown a strong and invaluable friendship by extending a helping hand to each other,” MOFA wrote in a statement.
The ministry also pointed out that the two sides share the universal values of freedom and democracy and have close ties in all fields, making them important partners and valued friends.
MOFA added that the two nations will continue to deepen their mutually beneficial and friendly relationship and work together to deepen cooperation in the fields of public health and epidemic prevention.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A new system developed by researchers at Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) for breast cancer treatment with reduced side effects was announced on Monday (Sept. 13).
The system reduces skin burns, leaves no scars, and causes few other adverse side effects for patients.
A ring-shaped high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) transducer is used to erode tumor tissues. The innovative HIFU system is non-invasive and requires no additional surgery.
Chen Gin-shin (陳景欣), who heads a research team at NHRI, said other HIFU systems are slower and often cause skin burns. Even though HIFU procedures have become a popular choice in recent years, the NHRI said roughly 30-40% of patients risk musculoskeletal or heart burns when undergoing the therapy.
Removing a 3-5-cm tumor using conventional HIFU techniques can take up to two hours, but the NHRI's procedure can erode a 5-cm tumor in just 30 minutes, he added.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Taiwan, the institution said. While there are many treatment options available, breast cancer patients often suffer from a risk of complications. These include high re-excision rates, post-surgery breast reconstruction, and a variety of side effects from radiation and chemotherapy.
Liang Kung-yee (梁賡義), who heads the NHRI, said the institution is looking for partners to assist with technology transfer so that its prototype system can become widely available to cancer patients.
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