TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A seemingly ingenious solution to resolving unequal playtime on Taipei City’s playground swings through the installation of timers has flopped amid controversies surrounding the practicality of the approach and whether it really helps promote the virtue of sharing.
The Taipei City Government put timers in place on swings at the city’s six parks earlier this month in a trial program to push for fair use of the facilities. The device is set at three minutes, after which the user is supposed to yield the swing to the next person waiting.
The measure, while well-intentioned, has been met with criticisms from educational groups and politicians, and it has triggered a backlash among the primary users of the amenity — the youngsters.
An association advocating greater parental involvement in children’s education said the move fails to take into account kids’ opinions. Some kids are baffled at the arbitrary time restraint, saying they might as well take turns playing the swings by working out an agreed span of time, while others are simply unhappy with being “forced” to follow the rule.
Not only has the issue sparked a debate on the supposed necessity of the timers, but the method itself appears to be riddled with flaws.
Taipei City Councilor Meredith Huang (黃郁芬) in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Oct. 19) said half of the timers have been damaged and removed due to the rain and that some children have boasted the device can be “fiddled with” to extend the time of use to an hour. Lambasting the measure as imprudent, the politician has called for a more sound approach to promoting fair access to the city’s playground resources.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A deliveryman on a scooter was run over by a bus and killed on a New Taipei street on Tuesday morning (Oct. 19) after falling to the ground following a collision with another scooter.
Police handled the aftermath of the accident and reviewed surveillance footage, which showed a female scooter driver on Zhongzheng Road in Yonghe avoiding an unidentified object and colliding with the deliveryman’s vehicle going in the same direction. This caused the man to fall to the ground in front of a bus that had been trailing him, the report said.
The victim, identified as a 41-year-old man surnamed Chang (張), was stuck under the chassis of the bus. Police told media that responding officers hoisted the bus up with a large jack to get Chang out, but he was not responsive and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police are still investigating the accident.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pledged on Monday (Oct. 18) to crack down on deepfakes after many celebrities have fallen victim to a crime involving pornographic videos.
Tsai said in a Facebook post that people have been profiting from manipulating the images of prominent figures and said that "we cannot sit idly by while these illegal activities happen unchecked." The government will push for tighter rules on the use of relevant technologies as it endeavors to stamp out disinformation and AI-generated fake videos, she added.
The move comes after a 26-year-old influencer going by the name of “Hsiao Yu” (小玉) was arrested Sunday (Oct. 17) over making deceitful videos where celebrities’ faces were swapped onto actors or actresses in porn films. The deepfakes were produced by exploiting machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.
Hsiao Yu touted the doctored footage via messaging platform Telegram and is believed to have made NT$10 million (US$357,429) from the crime. At least one hundred people, including politicians, entertainers, and YouTubers, have become victims of deepfake porn.
Chu was released Monday after posting NT$300,000 bail. He and his accomplice, surnamed Chuang (莊), now face a criminal charge punishable by up to two years of imprisonment and/or a fine of NT$90,000.
The Women In Digital Initiative, a Taiwan-based group for women’s rights, has urged heavier punishment to be imposed on such crime, saying current penalties have failed to curb such unlawful activities. Meanwhile, it is calling for more adequate resources to fight digital crime that is running rampant in the country.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video surfaced on Saturday (Oct. 16) showing two men knocked off their motorcycles by a sudden rockslide on a bridge in eastern Taiwan, with one of the riders suffering a broken leg.
While traveling along the Cross-Island Highway at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, a 46-year-old man surnamed Liu (劉) and a 44-year-old man surnamed Huang (黃) had nearly finished crossing the Cimu Bridge in Hualien County's Taroko National Park, when they were suddenly struck by falling rocks. Video of the dramatic incident quickly went viral on social media in Taiwan that day.
In the video taken from Huang's helmet camera, Liu can be seen nearly reaching the end of the bridge and entering a curve when an explosion erupts from the side of a mountain. Liu appears to slow down and places his right leg on the pavement to steady his motorcycle when a flying boulder about one meter high immediately crashes into his motorcycle and knocks him head over heels.
Debris also hurtles towards Huang, who also falls to the side, but he does sustain any serious injuries. When the boulder struck Liu's motorcycle, it smashed into his right leg, shattering his right femur.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene transported them to Tzu Chi Hospital for emergency medical treatment. Doctors said that Liu was fully conscious after the accident and his injuries are not deemed to be life-threatening.
Chen Li-hua (陳麗華) head of the Fourth District Maintenance Construction Office told the newspaper that the rockfall may have been caused by the recent heavy rains in the area. Chen said that aerial drones were flown over the scene of the rockfall to determine what topographical changes had occurred on the mountainside after the rains and will continue to closely monitor the situation.
According to Chen, the heavy rainfall had penetrated into the park's rock formations, increasing the likelihood of rockfalls. Chen advised the public to pay close attention to road conditions when driving through mountainous areas, particularly after heavy rains.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) riders can now book non-reserved seats as the country further eases COVID-19 restrictions.
The sale of non-reserved seat tickets was halted on May 15 amid a local COVID case surge and was resumed on Monday (Oct. 18). The rail service is also boosting its capacity with more trains added per week, according to THSR.
The seats are usually available in Cars 10, 11, and 12, but they may be expanded to Car 4-8 during peak hours, the company said.
Meanwhile, eating and drinking are permitted in high speed railway stations if a social distance is observed. However, the dining ban remains on trains, except in situations deemed necessary.
The Central Epidemic Command Center has decided to maintain Level 2 restrictions until Nov. 1 but scaled back some curbs including certain mask rules. People can now engage in athletic activities and take photos outdoors without masks.
Taiwan's daily case numbers have ranged between zero and single-digit numbers since Aug. 30 as the pandemic is considered to have been brought under control. As of Oct. 18, there were 16,337 cases, including 846 deaths.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Winter coats got their first outing in Taipei and its environs over the weekend, but there will be warmer weather around most of the country from Monday (Oct. 18) as the prevailing northeasterly winds die down.
Temperatures as low as 18 degrees Celsius were recorded in Shenkeng, north of Taipei, early Sunday evening (Oct. 17), along with brief showers and heavier rain in Keelung and some parts of Yilan County. Central and south Taiwan, however, stayed relatively balmy, with lows of 22 and highs of 30 C.
Technically, it is still autumn in Taiwan, with winter officially starting on Dec. 21 and coming to a close on March 20, 2022. However, the cooler weather is a change from the summer heat that has lasted up until now.
With the northeasterly winds set to die out on Monday morning, temperatures are likely to bounce back for a while. The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) predicts rain in east Taiwan, but mostly cloudy and sunny skies elsewhere until Thursday at least.
Meteorologist Wu Der-rong (吳德榮) believes a fresh weather front will affect Taiwan starting Friday (Oct. 22), but doesn't expect temperatures to budge by much.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on Sunday (Oct. 17) that Level 2 restrictions will be extended until Nov. 1, but beginning Oct. 19 people taking pictures indoors or out, or taking part in outdoor sports, can go maskless — but should carry a mask.
CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that Taiwan’s COVID situation has been stable, with only three local cases reported since Oct. 1. Although Level 2 restrictions will remain in place, he said that certain mask policies will be relaxed.
People should still wear a mask at all times when outside, but those who engage in outdoor sports, take personal or group photos indoors or outdoors, or work in open areas such as fields, fish farms, mountain forests, and the beach for the agriculture, forestry, fishery, and animal husbandry industries.
Despite this new policy, Chen said that people who meet these stipulations should still carry a mask on them. This is in case they experience COVID symptoms or if social distancing cannot be maintained.
For indoor gatherings, including conferences, exhibitions, and wedding banquets, the maximum number of people is 80. However, if there is a social distance of at least 1.5 meters between each person, there can be more than 80 people, reporters cited Chen as saying.
Meanwhile, the maximum capacity for outdoor gatherings is 300 people, he added. Chen said that venues such as karaoke bars, dance halls, nightclubs, clubs, bars, and "barbershops" offering sexual services will stay closed for now.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four people died and two are still missing in a river accident in the Hubao Pond area of New Taipei’s Shuangxi District.
A total of 31 people went on a hiking trip to the Hubao Pond historic trail on Saturday (Oct. 16). The group was returning when it rained heavily.
As they were crossing an upstream tributary of the Beishi River, six of them, including two adults and four children, were swept away by the river's currents. Rescuers found the bodies of two adults and two children along the river on Sunday, the report said. The search for the other two missing children is ongoing.
Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said that all six of the missing individuals were Taipei citizens. Taipei Department of Social Welfare said it would give NT$20,000 (US$690) to the family of each deceased victim.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (MVC) announced on Thursday (Oct. 14) that it had applied to the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Eswatini for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Eswatini, a landlocked country in South Africa, is Taiwan’s only ally in Africa. The two countries signed a bilateral agreement on medical cooperation in 2007, and since 2009 Taipei Medical University has been carrying out medical exchange activities for Taiwan.
The report added that medical exchanges have been one of the cornerstones supporting ties between the two countries. Eswatini congratulated Taiwan on its successful development of the Medigen COVID-19 vaccine and said it was an important milestone in fighting the disease on Twitter on Oct. 10, Taiwan’s National Day.
As of Tuesday (Oct. 12), Eswatini, with an population of 1.2 million, has had a total of 46,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 1,230 deaths, the report said. King Mswati III, the country’s leader, and his seven wives contracted the disease in January this year, and Taipei Medical University dispatched a team of five medical personnel to treat them.
Later, Mswati III thanked Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for the antiviral drugs that improved his condition. The application for an EUA in Eswatini comes after the company’s application for an EUA in South America's Paraguay, the report said.
MVC said that it is conducting a Phrase III clinical trial in Paraguay, which involves 1,000 people, and will obtain data for interim analysis by the end of this year.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is about to publish preliminary findings for a number of clinical trials to determine the efficacy of mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines, with the pairing of AstraZeneca (AZ) and Moderna showing promising results.
The National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) has completed an experiment in which 200 participants received an AZ and a Moderna shot, for 28 days. Antibody tests for those involved indicated greater potency in fighting the virus than that of two AZ doses.
The level of protection was similar to that from the mix of AZ and Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) vaccines, according to Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an infectious disease expert and specialist advisory panel convener at the Central Epidemic Command Center.
Other ongoing trials at the hospital include Moderna-Medigen, Medigen-BNT, and AZ-BNT pairings, reported Liberty Times. Participants for the Moderna-Medigen group will have their blood tested for neutralizing antibody levels on Day 1, 14, and 28, as well as three and six months after their vaccinations, with preliminary results expected by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital is probing the effectiveness of AZ-Moderna and AZ-Medigen inoculations. The Taoyuan General Hospital has also embarked on a trial of 200 people who will get two AZ jabs and one Medigen booster shot.
Though on a small scale, the experiments will help better understand to what extent the combination of different vaccines, including the homegrown brand of Medigen, can generate an immune response against COVD. This will allow for more efficient immunization using available vaccines, Liberty Times quoted NTUH physician Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) as saying.
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT