Virus Outbreak: Officials reject IMF economic forecastEXPANSION: The IMF’s projection that Taiwan’s economy would shrink 4% this year reflected a lack of understanding of the nation’s economic situation, officials saidBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterGovernment officials yesterday dismissed an IMF forecast that Taiwan’s GDP would contract by 4 percent this year, saying that the nation’s economy would continue to grow by 1.3 to 1.8 percent. “There is no need to take the [IMF] forecast seriously, as the international research body has failed to factor in the government’s NT$1.05 trillion [US$34.96 billion] program to mitigate the effects of the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Chu told reporters. Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei TimesThe IMF also does not have the latest figures on Taiwan’s economic performance, as the DGBAS is to disclose first-quarter figures on April 30, he said. The National Development Council said the IMF forecast reflected a lack of understanding of the nation’s economic situation. The IMF forecast that the world economy would contract by 3 percent this year, induced in part by concerted government efforts to combat the pandemic, before rebounding by 5.8 percent next year.
The ministry recognizes that the WHO has started to take Taiwan’s existence seriously and its willingness to openly discuss the issue of Taiwan’s participation, he said. While Taiwanese health experts have participated in two WHO networks, the UN agency has never allowed Taiwan access to its laboratory networks, Chen said. It has its own independent, sound medical and public health system, and only a government elected by Taiwanese can represent the Taiwanese public,” he added. “Taiwan can help and Taiwan is helping with concrete action,” Wu said, again urging the WHO to fully include Taiwan in its meetings and mechanisms. Some former allies have “more or less” pitched to Taiwan their requests for medical aid, he said.
Virus Outbreak: Ministry of Culture’s relief subsidies to start soonFIRST IN, FIRST OUT: Those who filed their applications in March might be able to ask for their funds as soon as this week, Cheng Li-chiun said at a news conferenceBy Lee Hsin-fang and Sherry Hsiao / Staff reportersThe initial payouts from the Ministry of Culture’s initial NT$1.5 billion (US$49.95 million) relief package, which drew 7,658 applications, could be requested as early as this week, the ministry said yesterday. The ministry started to review the applications even before the deadline, and those who filed last month might be able to request funds as early as this week, she said. Businesses could apply for up to NT$2.5 million to cover operational costs, while individuals would be eligible for up to NT$60,000, the ministry said. The ministry earlier this month proposed an expanded relief and recovery package with an additional NT$3.72 billion as part of the central government’s second-phase relief and recovery plan, bringing its total funding to NT$5.22 billion. The application period for the second-phase package would open on April 30 and end on May 20, Cheng said.
NPP urges changes to halt infiltration of the media by ChinaBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterTougher laws are needed to combat China’s growing influence on Taiwanese media via funding and sponsored news articles with the aim of subverting public discourse and undermining Taiwan’s democracy, New Power Party (NPP) officials said yesterday. “Now we are seeing that an enemy state, whose regime is hostile toward our nation, has been using the power and money of its party, government agencies and military to infiltrate Taiwan’s media outlets,” Chiu said. “Taiwan has come under attack by China through military threats, political warfare and propaganda campaigns,” the NPP said in a statement. “In the past few years, China has been using money and connections to infiltrate Taiwan’s media outlets, civil groups, temples and religious organizations, as well as other sectors of society,” it said. The ban must be extended to curtail China’s influence and control over the local media industry, he added.
The administrator of the museum’s Facebook page said that they generally aim to link the museum’s exhibits with current events. A statue of Tsai A-hsin, the nation’s first female doctor, is pictured on the National Museum of Taiwan History’s Facebook page yesterday. An image portraying a household embroidery factory is accompanied by a caption reminding people to stay home as much as possible. The post also includes a photograph of a statue of Taiwan’s first female physician, Tsai A-hsin (蔡阿信). The caption thanks frontline doctors and nurses for their efforts amid the pandemic.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday holds a meeting at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei after a cross-party negotiation on the additional budget for a bailout plan failed to reach a consensus. The KMT caucus has proposed budgeting NT$100 billion for cash handouts, KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said. Households subject to the 5 percent tax rate would receive NT$15,000; those subject to the 12 percent tax rate would receive NT$10,000; and those subject to the 20 percent tax rate would receive NT$6,000. The KMT caucus held a news conference at which it unveiled its proposal while negotiations were ongoing on Monday, but the DPP had not been informed of them, he added. Members of the KMT caucus later withdrew from the meeting.
Wisdom posts Q1 loss as virus hits freight demandSETBACK: The company had expected overcapacity to diminish amid new IMO rules, but the pandemic froze economic activity, crimping demand for ocean freightBy Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterWisdom Marine Lines Co (慧洋海運) posted a pretax loss of US$4.07 million in the first quarter due to deteriorating freight rates, marking its first quarterly loss since the second quarter of 2017, company data showed. The ongoing spread of COVID-19, disruptions at ports worldwide and lower demand for shipment with delayed production have created downward pressure on freight rates, the shipping company told the Taipei Times by telephone yesterday. Its revenue plunged 15.92 percent from a year earlier to US$92.71 million during the first three months, the data showed. However, with the pandemic freezing economic activity worldwide, demand for ocean freight has been lower than expected, Mou added. Meanwhile, container shippers Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運) and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp (陽明海運) saw their sales decline 4.86 percent to NT$43 billion and 1.24 percent to NT$34 billion respectively during the January-to-March period, company data showed.
Virus Outbreak: CAL to highlight ‘Taiwan’ on delivering donationsBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterPremier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday voiced support for changing the name of China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空), but said it was not an easy thing to do, as it could affect the nation’s aviation rights. Su reminded reporters that Chiang Kai-shek International Airport had been renamed Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport when he first served as premier during then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration. The league’s name had “historical reasons,” Su said, agreeing that the two examples she cited have caused confusion about the difference between Taiwan and China. With the world largely acknowledging Taiwan’s success in containing COVID-19, it is important that the world realizes “Taiwan is not China,” he said. Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday confirmed that the ministry had asked CAL to “add symbols representing Taiwan” on aircraft being used to carry international donations of medical supplies.
The government has invested NT$2.16 billion (US$71.7 million) in the testing, treatment, prevention and research of the disease, National Health Research Institute (NHRI) president Liang Kung-yee (梁賡義) said. An official holds a prototype of the COVID-19 rapid testing kid developed by the Industrial Technology Research Institute at a news conference yesterday at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. That test could produce results in 15 to 20 minutes, and might also be ready for mass production by July, he said. A third drug, quinine — which is commonly used to treat malaria and babesiosis — has also shown promise in the treatment of COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, he said. “Several countries have expressed hope to work with Taiwan to produce a vaccine and rapid test,” he said.
Taiwan oil millet touted as a potential superfoodEASY CROP: A farmer said the plant, which looks similar to wheat, yields three harvests per year and despite its resilience, needs to be protected from birds and weedsBy Chen Hsien-yi and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writerTaiwanese oil millet, an endemic plant species, could be a superfood, providing high nutritional value to humans and livestock, Academia Sinica researcher Hsing Yue-ie (邢禹依) said yesterday. It is easier to grow than most major high-yield crops — such as rice, wheat, corn, cassava or sorghum — the production of which is reliant on heavy irrigation, herbicides and fertilization, but Taiwanese oil millet does not require that much effort, she said. Taiwanese oil millet basks in the sunligh in Taitung County yesterday. Chiu Kuei-chun (邱貴春), a farmer who has grown Taiwanese oil millet for five years, said that the plant looks similar to wheat. Hsing said that her research team is conducting extensive research on the plant in the hope that its special qualities could allow more applications.
People’s perception of pigs is key to whether the pigs feel happy, Anita said, adding that potential owners must fully understand what a pet pig would mean to the household. Bai Ji Elementary School principal Wang Lien-chin walks the school’s pet pig in Taoyuan on Dec. 30, 2015. As sound pollution can be an issue, people who live in less urbanized areas or have sound-proofed homes would be more suited to owning a pet pig, she said. Pig owners should neuter or spay their pets when they are little, she said. Pet pigs enjoy interacting with their owners and demand a lot of attention, she said, adding that they also need periodic walks, as this helps their digestion.
Virus Outbreak: Double-decker bus offering NT$50 ridesBy Tsai Ya-hua and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Taipei Sightseeing Bus, the city’s double-decker tour line, is offering rock-bottom prices of NT$50 per ride from tomorrow until June 15, along with other promotional discounts, as it struggles amid a sharp decline in tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Taipei Sightseeing Bus said it is collaborating with the Great Taipei Commercial area and Green World Hotels in the promotion. Taipei Sightseeing Bus executive officer Hsu Hao-yuan (徐浩源) said that the promotional price is to be for single rides and four-hour rides, while day rides would enjoy an 80 percent discount. A Taipei Sightseeing Bus is pictured in Taipei on Saturday. Photo: Tsai Ya-hua, Taipei TimesPeople can get one free ride in their birth month, while up to two accompanying travelers can enjoy hop-on, hop-off service throughout the day for only NT$200, Hsu said.
Fire department honors retiring dog at ceremonyBy Yao Yueh-hung, Tang Shih-ming and Dennis Xie / Staff reporters, with staff writerThe Taipei City Fire Department honored a retiring rescue dog at a ceremony yesterday and extended its appreciation to the person who adopted the German shepherd. The dog, named Humble, received an honorary medal for its contributions to disaster relief at a ceremony, at which the department and the adopter, surnamed Lee (李), signed adoption papers, department commissioner Wu Chun-hong (吳俊鴻) said. The department said it hoped the ceremony would draw attention to rescue dogs and their post-retirement adoption, a practice it began in 2015, Wu said. Retired rescue dog Humble, front, poses for a photograph with Taipei City Fire Department commissioner Wu Chun-hong, right, at a ceremony in Taipei yesterday. Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior’s National Fire Agency yesterday began accepting adoption applications for five of its rescue dogs that are retiring this year.
NPP’s Claire Wang calls for breast milk controlsHEALTH RISK: Breast milk is still sold on e-commerce platforms, and if it has not been tested properly, babies consuming it could contract diseases, the legislator saidBy Wu Su-wei / Staff reporterNew Power Party (NPP) Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) on Friday called for breast milk to be regulated after a YouTube channel drew criticism for its descriptions of breast milk purchased online. In a video posted on Tuesday last week, YouTuber Hsiao-yu (小玉) was seen tasting breast milk purchased online and describing it as spoiled soy milk. For several years, local representatives and groups have been drawing attention to the “chaos” that is the sale of breast milk online, she said. Taiwan Academy of Breastfeeding representative Fang Li-jung (方麗容), who is responsible for Taipei City Hospital’s Human Milk Bank, said that as some diseases can be transmitted through breast milk, the purpose of the bank is to provide safe breast milk. Consuming breast milk purchased online is very risky, she said, adding that it is “absolutely unfit” for children to consume.
April 12, 2020 15:56 UTC
Treatable condition can cause nausea, dizziness at workBy William Hetherington / Staff writerPeople who experience dizziness or nausea whenever they are at work might have a medical condition that is treatable with medication and exercise, a psychiatrist in Kaohsiung said. In most cases, the condition is related to migraines, and is often caused by vestibular migraines, Tseng said. When these pulses pass through the inner ear they can cause tinnitus and dizziness, and when they pass through the spinal cord they can cause numbness in the limbs and muscle aches, he said. Regular exercise is also helpful, and people can achieve a healthy level of exercise by walking or cycling to and from work, he said. As other pre-existing conditions can also lead to dizziness in the workplace, people who suspect they have the condition should visit a doctor, he said.
April 12, 2020 15:56 UTC