TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A volunteer group organized by Tainan’s Labor Affairs Bureau to repair houses has been expanding its free services beyond the city limits as evidenced by work done for two underprivileged families in Yunlin and Nantou counties.
Tainan Labor Affairs Bureau head Wang Hsin-chi (王鑫基) said the Doing Good Team took a job in Dounan Township, Yunlin County repairing a dilapidated house with a broken roof. The mother of a township resident surnamed Lin (林) was living in the house at the time, Wang added.
The group started to repair the house on March 2 after receiving a referral from the Yunlin Labor Affairs Department, the bureau chief said. Cement work, metalwork, electrical engineering, and woodwork had already been completed, and painters on Sunday (April 11) put on the finishing touches, he added.
Wang explained that the case in Puli Township, Nantou County involved a grandmother surnamed Lin (林) who lives with two granddaughters in an old house in poor condition. As the grandmother makes her living collecting scrap metal and other recyclable items, she struggled to afford repairs.
Since the group initiated its project to fix up her house, it has renewed the metal roof, rewired power lines, reinstalled lighting, built new bathrooms, and placed partitions.
The woman and her granddaughters were thrilled as they watched volunteer cement workers paste new tiles to the wall on Sunday, according to the bureau chief.
The Doing Good Team has expanded its work to other cities and counties, so far completing 140 repair jobs.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Around 6,400 pig farms in Taiwan have been proven clear of African swine fever (ASW) following the report of an infected pig in the north last week believed to have drifted from China.
A nationwide inspection has been carried out on the country’s pig farms since April 6. Samples from 6,400 of the country’s 6,500 pig breeding sites have tested safe, with the rest expected to be completed on Monday (April 12), according to Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城), deputy minister at the Council of Agriculture (COA).
The measure comes after a pig's corpse was spotted on the coast in New Taipei’s Wanli District on April 4 and was found to carry the disease. Central Weather Bureau assessed the ocean currents could be to blame for bringing the dead pig onshore.
Taiwan’s Coast Guard has beefed up patrols and tighter border checks have been implemented against the import of pork products to ward off the virus. Last week batches of smuggled Chinese pork snacks were confiscated in Kinmen and Hsinchu after raids.
Taiwan reported 768 cases between Dec. 18, 2018, and April 5, 2021, when arriving visitors were fined NT$200,000 (US$7,022) for bringing pork products upon entry. Chinese and Taiwanese accounted for the lion’s share of violations, with 374 and 237 incidents, respectively, per Central Emergency Operation Center.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (April 12) confirmed one COVID-19 infection imported from Japan.
During a press conference on Monday, CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) announced one imported infection, raising the country's total to 1,058. The latest case is a Taiwanese female in her 20s who went to Japan to study in October of last year.
Prior to returning to Taiwan, she submitted the negative results of a test taken within three days of her flight. When she returned to Taiwan on April 4 of this year, she did not report experiencing any symptoms of the virus as was sent directly to a quarantine hotel.
However, on April 9, she began to experience dizziness and nausea. The health department arranged for her to undergo a coronavirus test on April 10.
On April 12, she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was found to have a Ct value of 22. In her case, the health department has identified one contact, who has been told to begin self-health monitoring.
Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 195,759 COVID-19 tests, with 194,071 coming back negative. Out of the 1,058 officially confirmed cases, 942 were imported, 77 were local, 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet," two were from a cargo pilot cluster, one was an unresolved case, and one (case No. 530) was removed as a confirmed case.
Up until now, 11 individuals have succumbed to the disease, while 1,026 have been released from hospital isolation, leaving 21 patients still undergoing treatment in Taiwan.
In contrast, Japan reported 20,000 new weekly infections on April 12, bringing its total number of cases to 507,622 and deaths to 9,422.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) was the first central and local government leader to get vaccinated after AstraZeneca jabs were made available on Monday (April 12) to officials involved in COVID-19 prevention work.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), and Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) also got vaccinated the same morning.
Cheng showed up before 7:50 a.m. at Taoyuan General Hospital to undergo a pre-vaccination assessment and to give consent before getting a jab. He spoke after receiving the injection on his left upper arm, commenting he "did not suffer any discomfort."
Cheng then took a break of 30 minutes in the adjacent health education room. He was accompanied by 10 Taoyuan government officials, who also got vaccinated.
The mayor encouraged those who are eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Taiwan expanded its vaccine eligibility from Monday (April 12) to central and local government workers engaged in epidemic prevention and control, as well as people with a higher occupational risk for the coronavirus, such as pilots, flight attendants, and cab drivers. Over 10 local leaders were expected to get vaccinated on Monday.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) were vaccinated as part of the nation's first batch of shots on March 22. Meanwhile, the CECC is mulling plans to open up vaccination to more of the population and set up in phases additional vaccination points as more vaccine arrives in the country.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Hsinchu-based pharmaceutical company announced on Sunday (April 11) that it has completed the final phase of clinical trials for its enterovirus 71 (EV71) vaccine and is hoping to launch it by 2022.
Potentially life-threatening EV71 infections are common among children in Taiwan, China, and Southeast Asian countries.
Taiwan's Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (MVC) on Sunday unveiled the phase III results of its EV71 vaccine, saying the lab has unblinded its trial data from 3,061 participants across Taiwan and Vietnam and can now both determine efficacy and reveal any safety concerns.
The company stated the results show the unblinding has met regulatory requirements, meaning the vaccine could be ready for launch.
"The next step is to apply for approval, registration, and permission to launch [the] EV71 vaccine. Hopefully it can hit the Taiwan market in 2022," the statement read.
The vaccine requires two shots: a primary dose followed by a booster. Vietnam has a high demand for the vaccine due to its growing population.
Enterovirus is a neurological disease that attacks the nervous system. Kids under the age of five in Taiwan are most vulnerable to developing severe complications from prevalent strains of EV71.
Children in Taiwan are advised to wash hands frequently and maintain good hygiene practices to avoid infection, as there are currently no vaccines available. Those infected with the virus are required to be kept away from school in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
EV71 is also prevalent in China and Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Three locally-produced EV71 vaccines are available on the Chinese market.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Around 114 COVID-19 vaccination booths have been established across Taiwan, while 50 more will be set up after April 16, according to a health official.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is said to be first in line to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday (April 12) when they become available to central and local government employees engaged in epidemic prevention and control.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) spokesperson, said on Sunday that up to 170 vaccination sites will be available to those eligible for a jab.
"On April 16, we will add 56 vaccination points to the existing 114 to make jabs more accessible to qualified populations," he said.
The CDC has divided members of the public into 10 priority groups for receiving the vaccines, with registration allowed for health care personnel and front-line health workers as well as people with higher occupational risk for coronavirus, such as pilots, flight attendants, and cab drivers who offer service to quarantined travelers.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) received the country's first batch of shots on March 22. The vaccines will become available from April 12 for central and local government employees involved in COVID-19 prevention work, according to the CECC's plan.
Media reported that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je is expected to show up at Taipei City Hospital Heping Branch to get the shot on Monday, the first day it opens to government employees. Ko is going to be accompanied by Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) and Secretary-General Chen Chih-ming (陳志銘), who will also receive shots.
Taipei's health department indicates that there are 13 vaccination points set up in the city, with only 10,900 jabs open for registration for the time being.
Meanwhile, the CECC is mulling whether to offer 5,000 to 10,000 self-paid AstraZeneca vaccines to those planning foreign travel. Those shots would commence by the end of April at the earliest.
BRYAN, UNITED STATES - One person was dead and several in critical condition following a shooting at a business in Texas Thursday (April 8), just hours after US President Joe Biden called gun violence an "epidemic" and unveiled plans to tackle the crisis.
The suspect was "in custody," according to the police department in the east Texas town of Bryan where the attack took place.
Officials said the individual shot and wounded one officer following the incident and was an employee of the cabinetry manufacturer where he carried out the shooting.
According to Police Chief Eric Buske, officers received a call "at approximately 2.30am this afternoon" about the attack at Kent Moore Cabinets.
"One person was deceased at the scene," he told reporters, and four additional victims were transported to the hospital "in critical condition with gunshot injuries." The Bryan Police Department confirmed a total of seven victims, which also included one person with a minor injury and another with a separate medical issue "related to the incident."
The Texas Department of Public Safety reported that a state trooper "was shot while pursuing an individual suspected of being involved in the shooting in Bryan. He remains in serious but stable condition." It was not immediately clear if the officer was among the Bryan Police Department's tally.
The incident follows recent mass gun attacks in Colorado, Georgia and California, with nearly 40,000 people in the United States dying each year from shootings, approximately half of those being suicides.
"As you can imagine it's very complex because you have a whole number of workers at the warehouse, and so we're sorting through all that and interviewing witnesses and talking to people to know what happened," Buske told reporters.
The issue of gun regulation in the United States is politically fraught.
Biden on Thursday announced six executive measures which he said would help tamp down the gun violence crisis, but Republicans immediately attacked the proposal, with the party's senior leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, warning of "unconstitutional overreach."
SANTIAGO - More than 4,200 tonnes of salmon have fallen victim to killer algae in Chile, the South American country's fisheries and aquaculture service said Thursday (April 8).
It's the latest mass mortality event recorded in the world's second largest producer of salmon.
It has been attributed to harmful algal blooms that reduce the amount of oxygen in water, thus suffocating the salmon.
The same phenomenon killed thousands of tonnes of salmon in 2016.
Some 18 salmon farms in the south of Chile, which produces around 26 per cent of the world's salmon, have been affected.
Greenpeace says it is due to pollution caused by salmon farming, while those in the industry blame it on climate change.
"It is undeniable that this type of crisis develops due to the influence of pollution produced by salmon farming," said Greenpeace spokesman Mauricio Ceballos.
"There is evidence that the presence of ammonium and urea from salmon farms in closed fjords or with little circulation can exacerbate blooms of the species detected." Three different types of harmful algae were detected in the 18 farms, where 70 per cent of the dead fish have been removed.
Only Norway produces more salmon than Chile, which made almost US$4.4 billion (S$5.9 million) from salmon exports in 2020.
Taiwan's 'transitional justice' president pressed to acknowledge death row inmate tortured into confession
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Human rights advocates on Wednesday (April 7) demanded an explanation from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for her refusal to comment on a petition to pardon Taiwan's longest-serving death row inmate, Chiou Ho-shun (邱和順), who was tortured into confessing to murder 33 years ago.
A brief march terminating outside the Presidential Office Building at 2 p.m. marked the anniversary of the petition, which was signed by 327 people from a variety of backgrounds, including members of 60 NGOs active in the country. To date, over 100,000 signatures worldwide have been collected.
Those present Wednesday included representatives of Amnesty International, the Judicial Reform Foundation (民間司法改革基金會), the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會), the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP, 台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟), and the Taiwan Innocence Project (冤獄平反協會). Demonstrators also held signs publicizing an exhibition presenting the story of Chiou's case: Haiwang Tianguang (海旺天光) - Chiou Ho-Shun's 32 Forgotten Years, which will open in Taichung Friday (April 9) and run through May 8.
In 1988, a suspect arrested in connection with the disappearance of a nine-year-old boy gave police the names of Chiou and 10 others, all of whom initially proclaimed their innocence. Within days, however, all had admitted to not only the boy's murder but also to the unsolved killing and dismemberment of a woman.
The police continued their interrogation of the suspects until they had secured no less than 288 confessions, which the court accepted as evidence, ultimately forming the basis for Chiou's death sentence the following year.
Chiou later recanted his confessions, which he said had been extracted after numerous, prolonged periods of torture. The sessions, some of which were recorded, included drownings, beatings, solitary confinement, and electrocution of the genitals.
This was acknowledged in court in the 1994 conviction of two officers involved in the abuse. To this day, no physical evidence has been submitted to connect the accused with the murders.
President Tsai's continued silence is deafening, Chiou's supporters said Wednesday. Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) remarked, "These past several years, Taiwanese are all very proud of the progress made on human rights, but I believe Chiou Ho-shun's case is Taiwan's greatest stain."
TAEDP Executive Director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) told Taiwan News: "It's a political issue. It's very difficult for the president to make a decision — we know that. But at least, she needs to give us a response because this is her duty." She said while Tsai often talks about listening to others, she has not once mentioned Chiou's case to his allies since they filed the petition.
"So this is what we want: to at least tell us why she cannot make a decision. Tell us why. What cannot convince her... We have a lot of evidence, but we don't know she's read the case, understands the case, or thinks about the case," she said, adding that they had tried numerous approaches to no avail — international, judicial, and social.
Asked if he is aware of pressure within Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party to pardon Chiou, Chiou's attorney Yu Po-hsiang (尤伯祥) said that because of Tsai's clout in the party, such a push will not come from within. "I believe for her to make such a decision, the important thing is whether she can receive applause for doing so," he stated.
Whether or not Tsai responds, she is Chiou's last hope, as he exhausted the last of his appeals in 2011. In addition, the 61-year-old is now being treated for heart trouble, according to sources familiar with the matter, and supporters fear this could spell the end for him even before he is put to death, which in Taiwan could happen at any time.
The Asian Human Rights Court Simulation (AHRCS) in 2019 organized a mock trial for Chiou, with judges, lawyers, and other legal experts from around the continent coming to participate. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the AHRCS ruled that Chiou "has been and remains a victim of the violation of his [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] rights" and determined that Taiwan had violated Articles 7 and 14 of this treaty.
Taiwan ratified the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) in 2009.
Thomas Wang, the U.S.-trained criminal defense attorney who represented Chiou in the simulation, told Taiwan News last year that he does believe any judge involved in Chiou's initial trial and subsequent appeals views the forced confessions the sentence hinges on as valid.
The country's judicial system has simply chosen to save face over saving an innocent life, Wang believes. "We all have our own internal biases, and in this case, to me, the biases got the better of good judgment: inconsistencies, torture, and just fundamentally flawed police investigation."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A massive fire broke out at a residential building in Northern Tainan on Wednesday (April 7).
Tainan City Government Fire Bureau's Sixth Disaster Relief and Rescue Brigade dispatched 21 trucks and 47 firefighters to Beizhong Street in the city's North District after receiving a report of a fire at 4:43 p.m. Flames and plumes of grey and yellow smoke, which could be seen from the Tainan Train Station, billowed from a one-story brick bungalow.
According to the sixth brigade's fire chief, Chang Ming-Chin (張明欽), the fire was successfully put out at 5:18 p.m.and there were no deaths or casualties. Because the firemen arrived in time, the inferno did not spread to neighboring buildings.
Out of precaution, a motorcycle store on the same street had moved all its vehicles out of its garage to prevent an explosion.
Since the fire broke out at a residential house, the fire chief urged residents to install fire alarms in their households. He stated that a fire alarm "will alert users when fire hazards occur and mitigate future fire hazards.”
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT