TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese frontline medical worker has expressed concern that the country's medical system will soon be stretched to capacity by the continuing increase in imported coronavirus cases.
In a post on the online forum PTT on Sunday (Jan. 17), the medical worker, who goes by the username Amphibia, pointed out that incoming coronavirus patients are putting healthcare workers under more pressure every day. He said other countries saw their healthcare systems collapse last year and that Taiwan should try to avoid the same fate.
He stressed that medical professionals are risking their lives at work and could easily be exposed to the coronavirus during the course of their duties. Since they are on the front line, they should have more time to rest, he explained.
He urged the government to consider closing its borders to all arrivals until COVID-19 patients currently in the country have recovered. He suggested that the Central Epidemic Command Center reduce "unnecessary battles" for the frontline workers and preserve Taiwan's medical resources.
Since the start of 2021, Taiwan has recorded a total of 66 coronavirus infections, 57 of which were imported. The nine domestic cases were all tied to a cluster outbreak at Taoyuan General Hospital over the past week.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the midst of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan's health care system has been ranked as the best in the world for the third year running in Numbeo's annual online survey.
Under the online database's Health Care Index category for 2021, Taiwan received a score of 86.39 out of 100, a slight drop from its score of 86.71 from last year but higher than the 86.22 mark it received in 2019. This year's score was still more than enough to rank it 1st among the 93 countries on the list.
Trailing Taiwan in second place was South Korea with a score of 82.34, and in third place was France with a mark of 80.99. Dropping a spot to fourth place this year was Japan at 80.68, followed by Denmark at 79.96, Spain at 78.80, Austria at 78.40, Thailand at 78.08, Australia at 77.71, and Finland at 76.40, rounding out the top 10.
Under the category Health Care Exp Index, Taiwan also took the top spot at 158.95. The second through eighth spots remained the same as Health Care Index, but the 10th place spot for Health Care Exp Index was seized by Switzerland, pushing Finland to 11th place for the category.
China came in at a lowly 40th place for its Health Care Index score of 66.38, and the country ranked 42nd for its Health Care Exp Index rating of 119.01. According to Numbeo, the rankings are based on surveys from website visitors who are tasked with rating the overall quality of health care in their countries.
Its Health Care Index category is a rating of the "overall quality of the healthcare system, health care professionals, equipment, staff, doctors, cost, etc..." The Health Care Exp Index takes the Health Care Index of a country and raises it exponentially if a health care system is rated as having better quality.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A man in central Taiwan was referred for further investigation and prosecution after he took possession of a wallet containing cash and identity documents that he picked up on a street.
A Taiwanese-Japanese woman recently went from Yilan County to visit her relatives in Puli Township, Nantou County, where she lost her wallet and then reported it to the Puli Police Station. The wallet contained cash of NT$4,800 (US$166), a National Health Insurance card, credit cards, and a residence permit.
Upon receiving the report, officers set out to review surveillance camera footage along the route the woman took the day of the event.
Puli Precinct said on Tuesday (Jan. 19) that after combing through numerous video clips, officers were able to find footage from the surveillance camera of a private residence showing a man on a bicycle who stopped suspiciously to pick up a purse before taking off.
However, as his face was too blurry, officers continued to pursue footage from further along the streets he was likely to have traveled. By reviewing more cameras, the officers were able to come across clear footage of the man’s features.
Police identified the suspect as a man surnamed Lin (林), who later confessed that he picked up the wallet, took out the NT$4,800, and threw the wallet along with personal identity documents into a mailbox on the street.
The police said that Lin was likely to have breached the country’s criminal code, which stipulates that it’s illegal to take lost property. He was referred to the Nantou District Prosecutors Office for further investigation and prosecution.
Police were able to retrieve the woman’s identity documents and credit cards from the mailbox. Upon receipt of the items, she expressed her gratitude, saying that she was “deeply moved by the empathy and enthusiasm the officers had exhibited in handling a small case like this.”
In related news, a man surnamed Hsu (徐) was referred for prosecution after he took possession of more than NT$100,000 in cash he picked up from a street in Pingtung City on Jan. 11.
The cash, which belonged to a man surnamed Wu (吳), was part of a NT$900,000 wad of bills blown away by a gust of wind as Wu got out of his car.
Many passersby helped to pick up the cash, and Hsu was one of them. However, unlike the other passersby, Hsu took off on his scooter with the money.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (HSR) announced that to cater to a large number of college students returning for the spring semester, there will be an increase of both south and northbound trains from Feb. 18-22, and that ticket prices will be further discounted.
During the winter break, many students are returning home to spend Lunar New Year with their relatives. To provide them with a convenient and affordable journey back to school, there will be 10 additional 50 percent discounted trains for university students on top of the existing 25 percent and 50 percent discounted student tickets.
University students can purchase tickets online through the HSR online system, convenience stores, or at HSR station counters. They are encouraged to book their tickets early and take advantage of the promotional activity.
Taiwan continues to enforce strict epidemic prevention measures, which apply to all public transport. Passengers must wear masks, except when eating, or be subject to fines.
For more information regarding ticket prices and train schedules, visit Taiwan High Speed Rail’s website.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday (Jan. 18) announced six new imported Wuhan coronavirus cases from four countries.
On Monday, Health and Welfare Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), announced six new coronavirus cases, which, including one new domestic case, brings the total number of cases to 862. The latest imported cases include three Taiwanese family members, a Swedish man, a Filipino woman, and a Burmese man. The cases had recently arrived from the U.S., U.K., the Philippines, and Myanmar, respectively.
Each had submitted negative results of tests taken within three days of their flight, and each was sent directly to their residence or an epidemic hotel upon arrival in Taiwan.
According to Chen, Cases 857, 858, and 859 are a Taiwanese woman in her 40s and a male and female child she arrived with, both under the age of 10. The three had lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time and returned to Taiwan on Jan. 4.
On Jan. 10, Case No. 857 began to experience a cough and general fatigue. On January 14, the woman developed a fever.
The health department arranged for all three to undergo a test for the coronavirus, and they were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 18. Because the three did not come in contact with any other persons during their quarantine and because medical personnel who interacted with them wore proper protective gear, no contacts have been listed in their cases.
Case No. 860 is a Swedish male in his 50s who works in Taiwan. On Dec. 3, he flew to the U.K. for business negotiations.
He returned to Taiwan on Jan. 3. As he had been in the U.K., where a new mutant strain of the coronavirus has emerged, he was tested for the virus on Jan. 4.
The results came back negative. However, on Jan. 9, he began to experience a headache. As his quarantine was set to expire, he underwent another test for the disease on Jan. 16.
On Jan. 18, he tested positive for COVID-19. Since he had not interacted with others during his quarantine, no contacts have been listed for his case.
Case No. 861 is a Filipino girl in her teens. She came to Taiwan to study on Dec. 31.
After the completion of her quarantine, she took a special vehicle to the hospital on Jan. 15 to undergo a coronavirus test at her own expense. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 18.
The health department has identified six contacts who rode with her in the same vehicle. Five of these passengers have been told to start home isolation, while the driver, who wore proper protective equipment, has been asked to begin self-health monitoring.
Case No. 862 is a Burmese male fisheries worker in his 40s. He came to Taiwan on Dec. 27 for work.
After his self-health management period ended, he underwent a test for the coronavirus. On Jan. 18, he tested positive for COVID-19.
As he did not come in contact with others during his quarantine and self-health management period and since medical personnel at the hospital wore adequate protective gear, no contacts have been listed in his case.
Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 137,512 COVID-19 tests, with 135,321 coming back negative. Out of the 862 officially confirmed cases, 762 were imported, 61 were local, 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet," two were from the cargo pilot cluster, one is an unresolved case, and one (Case No. 530) was removed as a confirmed case.
Up until now, seven individuals have succumbed to the disease, while 756 have been released from hospital isolation, leaving 99 patients still undergoing treatment in Taiwan.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An Indonesian caregiver in Miaoli County is facing a negligent homicide (過失致死罪) charge in the death of a Taiwanese woman last week, the local police department said Sunday (Jan. 17).
Surveillance camera footage showed that the 74-year-old Taiwanese woman, surnamed Hu (胡), struggling to get out of her bed to go to the bathroom late Tuesday night (Jan. 12). When she fell and hit her head on the corner of the bed, the 43-year-old Indonesian caregiver, Mimi (蜜蜜), refused to tend to her and watched her struggle on the floor for nearly 30 minutes.
During the time, Mimi was also heard telling Hu to get up by herself when she asked for help. When Hu was finally able to move closer to the bathroom, Mimi then offered her assistance.
At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Hu was found unconscious by a family member and was immediately sent to a nearby hospital. She died of intraventricular bleeding on Saturday (Jan. 16), with the doctor linking her injuries to external forces.
During a press interview, Hu's son said that the family had employed the Indonesian caregiver to take care of their mother after she suffered a stroke last month. He said the caregiver lied about Hu's injuries even after she was transported to the hospital, stressing that her "outrageous" behavior had caused his mother's death.
Based on initial findings, the police concluded that the Indonesian caregiver's negligence had contributed to Hu's death. She was released on bail of NT$10,000 (US$357) Sunday (Jan. 17) pending further investigation.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video surfaced on Sunday (Jan. 17) showing a foreign national shout at passengers, conductors, and police when asked to wear a face mask and apply it properly, because she claimed it makes her cough.
On Sunday, a foreign woman was seen riding a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train bound for Taichung without a mask. When she was asked to wear a mask, she allegedly cursed fellow passengers, made obscene hand gestures, and refused to cooperate with conductors and police officers.
A member of the Facebook group Breaking News Commune (爆料公社), Rex Huang, on Sunday wrote an account of the incident and included photos and videos demonstrating the woman's behavior while on the train. Huang said that while riding a TRA train on Sunday from New Taipei City's Banqiao District to Taoyuan's Zhongli District, he overheard a foreign woman sitting behind him suddenly starting to yell and shout the expletive "f***!"
When he turned around to see what the commotion was about, he saw that a Taiwanese woman was asking a foreign woman to wear her mask, but she refused and cursed her. When Huang tried to reason with the woman, he alleges that she flipped him off.
When a conductor came to try to deal with the situation, the woman pretended not to be able to speak Mandarin and claimed in English that wearing the mask causes her to cough and refused to wear it. In the first video of the confrontation, she can be seen placing the mask on her face but leaving it hanging beneath her nose, prompting passengers to request her to wear it properly.
She responded by repeatedly screaming at passengers and TRA staff to leave her alone and that she "didn't do anything illegal!" After she calms down slightly, the Taiwanese woman next to her explains that she requested the woman to wear the mask as she had started coughing.
The woman repeated her claim that "if I wear it too much, I cough." The Taiwanese passenger then explained to the woman she was wearing the mask the wrong way, as it was drooping below her nose.
The unruly passenger claimed that she could not "wear it the other way" and needed another mask. She then accused the conductor of putting words in her mouth.
The irate passenger complained that the woman sitting next to her did not directly ask her to put the mask on, and instead went through other people. The Taiwanese woman explained that she felt that she could not directly force the foreign passenger to wear a mask and instead sought a TRA employee to speak to her instead.
After a long negotiation, she agreed to move to a nursing room. However, when she got near it, she refused to go in because it was a confined space.
When she saw passengers discussing the incident with police officers, she threw another temper tantrum. In the second video, she can be seen screaming at a police officer that she "did not call him any name" and denied making an obscene gesture with her hand.
A conductor had finally had enough and could be heard telling police, "We will soon arrive at Zhunan, requesting assistance, we refuse to carry this passenger." Finally, when the woman saw a large number of police officers waiting for her at the Zhunan Station, she voluntarily got off the train.
Huang felt that the female Taiwanese woman and other passengers were calm and composed when speaking to the flustered woman. He alleged that instead of buying a proper ticket, she had boarded the train with an EasyCard, and therefore did not have a seat.
He emphasized that all the foreigners he knew in Taiwan were very good people and well-mannered. However, he found this woman's behavior to be "really undesirable" and then warned such unruly international passengers to "not take Taiwanese people lightly."
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese doctor has cautioned against engaging in a witch-hunt and piling blame on medical staff after a hospital in northern Taiwan reported domestic COVID-19 cases.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed on Saturday (Jan. 16) that at least two doctors and one nurse have tested positive for coronavirus in the country’s first cluster infections. The incident has sparked nationwide fear amid online rumors and accusations about breached protocols in COVID patients' treatment.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Jan. 17), Chung Shan Medical University Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department Director Hsieh Tsung-hsueh (謝宗學) said Taiwan is experiencing similar circumstances it had faced during the SARS outbreak. During that time, society was largely unprepared for the deadly disease and a large-scale blame game took hold.
“Some agitated people have been sowing division and trying to create rifts to advance their political agenda,” Hsieh said. Witch-hunting and discrimination against the infected will only make it more difficult to identify potential patients and hamper efforts to control the disease.
The physician urged for calm as authorities take stock of the situation and make amends. He suggested that the pandemic is a test for humanity, and he called for empathy and support for front-line medical workers. Hsieh remarked, “Those who think other places are faring better than Taiwan may as well leave the country.”
According to the CECC, vigorous testing, reduced services, and other measures have been implemented at the hospital where cluster infections have occurred. Whether the cluster would exacerbate remains to be seen in the coming two weeks.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Vietnamese man on Sunday (Jan. 17) suffered a severe knife wound to his abdomen in his sleep, and the assailant is currently still at large.
A 23-year old man sustained the wound in his dormitory in New Taipei City's Wugu District. While he was sleeping, one of his roommates cut open his abdomen with a knife.
Police received a report of the incident at 7 p.m. and after arriving on the scene, they immediately called for an ambulance to rush him to the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment. Although the victim was conscious, he could not speak Mandarin and he was not able to explain the cause of the conflict.
According to an initial police investigation, the incident occurred in a migrant worker dormitory on Yucheng Road. The victim is suspected of having a dispute with the assailant while the two were drinking alcohol.
The suspect then apparently waited until the victim fell asleep to attack him with the knife. Fortunately, the victim was able to call for help.
The suspect is currently at large and police have set up a special task force to track his movements and bring him to justice. The victim's injuries are reportedly no longer life-threatening after receiving treatment at the hospital.
MOSCOW - CanSino Biologics's Russian partner expects local authorities to register the Chinese company's Covid-19 vaccine soon, potentially marking the first approval for use of the inoculation outside of China.
"All registration procedures have been completed, we expect to get the registration certificate in days," Nikolay Dodonov, head of Petrovax Pharm's medical department, said in a phone interview.
The CanSino vaccine is currently undergoing Phase 3 trials and has been granted military approval in China, which is more limited than emergency authorisation.
Russia is among the first countries to offer universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, with President Vladimir Putin this week ordering authorities to let anyone who wants sign up for an inoculation. It currently has two domestic vaccines registered for use.
Petrovax, owned by the country's richest man, Vladimir Potanin, got permission for a local Phase 3 trial of the CanSino vaccine in August and applied to register it in November, according to Dodonov.
Petrovax completed injections of 500 volunteers in its local trial in November and has analyzed the results of 200 so far, Dodonov said. Of those assessed, 149 received the inoculation and had antibody levels four times higher than the minimum threshold for immunity, he said.
Petrovax, which is also helping conduct CanSino's international trial in Russia, plans to complete its study by May.
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