By Sean Lin / Staff reporterLawmakers across party lines yesterday issued a joint statement calling for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO and its decisionmaking body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), and urging the global health body to make a distinction between Taiwan and China. The Legislative Yuan sternly condemns China’s obstruction of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO and the WHA, and urges the WHO to correct the nation’s designation and exclude it from China, it said. The Legislative Yuan urged the WHO to listen to the voice of the international community and work out a way to facilitate Taiwan’s inclusion in its operations, it said. At a critical juncture of global disease prevention, the Legislative Yuan strongly supports the government’s efforts to seek participation in the WHO, including full participation in its peripheral meetings and activities, so that it can make professional and practical contributions, it said. The Legislative Yuan demands that the government press on with the cause by seeking the support of its diplomatic allies and like-minded countries, it said.
An investigation was initiated after verifying with health authorities and base officials that the messages are false, Hsinchu City Police Precinct Chief Teng Hsueh-hsin (鄧學鑫) said. In Taipei, Criminal Investigation Bureau officers questioned a teenager, who allegedly spread rumors and misinformation about the virus on social media. The junior-high school student became the nation’s youngest person to be investigated for spreading rumors and misinformation about the disease. Police urged parents to check their children’s Internet and social media usage, and warn them against disseminating rumors and misinformation. After verifying with local health authorities that the claim was false, bureau officials said that they identified the two men, who face charges.
By Sean Lin / Staff reporterPremier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei touted his Cabinet’s achievements in areas ranging from disease prevention, the cultural and creative sectors, and renewable energy to collaborations with the indigenous defense industry. Su was giving his administrative report and answered legislators’ questions on the first day of the new legislative session. The government has also been implementing policies to transform the nation’s energy mix, Su said, adding that work to install photovoltaic and wind power facilities have begun to bear fruit. The government has also been collaborating with the local defense industry on projects to build indigenous planes and ships, Su said. Later this year, the Coast Guard Administration is to take ownership of a 4,000-tonne cruiser — the nation’s largest ever — that can carry helicopters, Su said.
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it has started distributing masks for the children of foreign representatives in Taiwan, after the wife of the Slovakian envoy said she had difficulty buying children’s masks, amid fears over the COVID-19 outbreak. Liang told a store clerk that she only has a diplomatic identification card issued by MOFA for family members of foreign representatives, but was rejected. After learning what happened, the two ministries discussed how to distribute masks for children of foreign representatives in Taiwan, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. Masks for foreign representatives and their spouses — two for each person a week — had been forwarded to each representative office, she said. He praised the Taiwanese government for its expertise and action, and thanked the foreign ministry for its assistance in many matters.
An initial investigation found that the two women were likely infected by a woman in her 60s — the 24th patient, confirmed on Wednesday, as they are related. The woman in her 60s lives in northern Taiwan and is the grandmother and mother of the other two women, the center said. The oldest woman lives with her daughter, while her granddaughter visited her on Tuesday last week after she was hospitalized. As none of the three women have traveled abroad in the past two years, the origin of their infection remains unknown, the center said. A level 2 “alert” urges travelers to be more vigilant and a level 3 “warning” cautions against nonessential travel.
Reuters, TOKYOJapan’s factory activity suffered its steepest contraction in seven years this month, as the widening fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak in China reinforced the risk of a recession in the world’s third-largest economy. The Jibun Bank Flash Japan Services Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to a seasonally adjusted 47.6 from a final 48.8 last month, its lowest since late 2012. The Jibun Bank Flash Japan Services PMI index shrank at its fastest pace in nearly six years, again due to the virus’ debilitating impact across the sector. It slumped to 47.0 this month, also hitting its lowest since April 2014 and down from the previous month’s final of 50.1. “February flash PMI data stack the odds heavily against Q1 growth, despite [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe’s best efforts to stimulate the economy after the sales tax hike,” Hayes said.
By Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporterAdimmune Corp (國光生技) on Thursday said it is developing a COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with the National Health Research Institutes, and plans to run animal tests in the second quarter if its research proceeds smoothly. As the virus’ sequence reportedly evolves and appears different in separate regions, the company is attempting to determine whether the difference is considerable enough to affect the efficacy of a vaccine, Pan said. Earlier this month National Taiwan University managed to isolate the virus strain of COVID-19, and Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) on Monday said that it expects to conduct clinical tests for its vaccine in the second half of this year. However, Adimmune said that those antibodies would not help in the development of vaccines. However, our goal is to produce an antigen against the virus, which is different,” Pan said.
Another consideration is that to calculate the extent of the epidemic’s impact, one would also have to guess China’s attitudes, determination and capabilities. Uncertainty is a major bane of economic development, and China and the virus are both unpredictable variables. Collapsed bridges, houses and so on that were built in the past do not count toward the current year’s GDP. Post-disaster reconstruction can sometimes spur economic growth, while delayed consumption can often make up for a temporary decline in demand. The losses that can potentially arise from disasters provide an important rationale for expanding the nation’s disease-prevention and control capabilities.
Why did Washington take such a high-profile action as the COVID-19 outbreak in China continues to trouble Beijing? Unnamed sources say that Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes entered Taiwan’s outer airspace twice within 24 hours on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, crossing the median line the second day. Surprisingly, sources confirmed that the Chinese J-11 planes both crossed the line and locked on to Taiwan’s military aircraft scrambling to intercept, and tensions were high. Whether the PLA pilots did so because they became nervous seeing several Taiwanese military aircraft or because they were under orders and acted intentionally, as even the slightest mistake could have accidentally sparked an incident. Washington dared not ignore the Chinese provocation, and the US Department of State immediately called on Beijing to cease its threats.
By Natasha Li / Staff reporterChina Steel Corp (CSC, 中鋼) yesterday said it would raise domestic steel prices next quarter at an average rate of 1.9 percent, due to increasing raw material costs from rising demand on an improving economic outlook. The nation’s largest steelmaker, which has repeatedly cut prices in previous quarters to cushion the impact of a US-China trade dispute, said in a statement that its prices have fallen far below international market quotations. The price of steel plates would increase by NT$600 (US$19.73) per tonne, while the price of steel bars and rods would rise by NT$500 per tonne, it said. Steel products used in the auto industry or to make boats are exempt from any price increases next quarter, it said. CSC said that it expects what little impact the COVID-19 outbreak has on the overall steel market to be short-lived, based on the effect of SARS on the industry in 2003.
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterAcademia Sinica yesterday said that its researchers have developed an antibody testing method for COVID-19 and have made progress synthesizing remdesivir, a medicine that many believe could cure the infection. The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday sent serum samples to Academia Sinica of three people who had contact with Taiwan’s first COVID-19 fatality, as part of an effort to determine the source of that infection. Test results showed that only one sample had antibodies for COVID-19 and SARS, Academia Sinica Institute of Biomedical Sciences research fellow Lin Yi-ling (林宜玲) said. The synthesized drug cannot be used without the consent of the US pharmaceutical firm that manufactures remdesivir, Liao said. Nonetheless, the achievement showed that Academia Sinica is capable of drug synthesis and could facilitate mass production of the drug after a technology transfer has been completed, he added.
Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is commander-in-chief of the Burmese armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, which has been accused of genocide in its systematic persecution of the ethnic and religious minority Rohingya. Australian Ambassador to Myanmar Andrea Faulkner met with Min Aung Hlaing on Jan. 29 at the Bayintnaung Villa in the capital, Naypyidaw. It is not the first time that Faulkner and previous Australian ambassadors have met with Min Aung Hlaing. The UN has identified Min Aung Hlaing as someone who should face investigation and prosecution for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Australia has imposed autonomous sanctions on five senior members of the Burmese military, including some direct subordinates of Min Aung Hlaing, but not on the commander-in-chief himself
The move would expand the number of sales outlets from TTL-run stores and 6,000 National Health Insurance partner pharmacies that already sell the product. TTL added that it would start selling 60ml and 100ml sanitizers in the middle of next month. Another state-run company, Taiwan Sugar Corp, on Wednesday began selling hand sanitizers at FamilyMart convenience stores across the nation. Cheng said there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of people visiting the hospital because of hand eczema. Common symptoms of eczema are dry, itchy, rough, peeling and chapped hands, which are painful if alcohol is used, she said.
By Shelley Shan / Staff reporterStarting this week, Chunghwa Post is to be in charge of delivering 75 percent alcohol used as a disinfectant to protect against COVID-19, the postal company said yesterday. The state-run firm undertook the task after it was last week ordered to deliver masks to be sold at National Health Insurance (NHI) partner pharmacies. Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTLC) produces the 75 percent alcohol, Department of Mail Business and Operations head Chen Ching-hsiang (陳敬祥) said. TTLC would first deliver the alcohol to 23 postal service hubs, from which couriers would deliver it to the NHI’s 5,660 partner pharmacies nationwide, he said. Delivering masks and alcohol would increase couriers’ workloads, but many of them feel honored to be part of national disease-prevention efforts, Chen said.
February 19, 2020 16:01 UTC
Staff writer, with CNAThe “US-Taiwan Tech Challenge: Countering Disinformation and Propaganda,” opened yesterday in Taipei as part of efforts by the two nations to develop innovative technologies to curtail the spread of disinformation. “We are confident that the assembled technologists, experts and others at this tech challenge will be able to develop cutting-edge solutions to the challenges posed by disinformation,” Greene said. Taiwan is on the front line in the fight against disinformation, in which China has invested heavily to develop sophisticated ways to anonymously disseminate disinformation through various channels, including social media, he added. Disinformation about an outbreak of COVID-19 has also spread on Taiwan’s social media. Four interactive panel sessions on the development and implementation of technology to counter disinformation are to be held today.
February 19, 2020 15:56 UTC