Taichung coal rules invalid: EYLAWS IN CONFLICT: The city revoked coal use permits for the Taichung Power Plant — an action overturned by the EPA last month — and now seeks a court opinionStaff writer, with CNASome provisions of legislation implemented by the Taichung City Government to reduce the use of coal are invalid, the Executive Yuan said on Friday, as the central government tries to settle the fate of the Taichung Power Plant. The Taichung Power Plant is pictured in an undated photograph. The Executive Yuan said that the Taichung City Government had been unresponsive to calls to amend its rules, and last month, it asked Taichung for the third time to bring its policy in line with the amended law. The central government’s request is believed to be aimed at resolving a dispute over the city government’s decision to revoke permits for two generators at the fossil fuel-powered Taichung Power Plant. 3 generators, effective in January, after claiming that the power plant had breached the Autonomous Act for Coal Regulation three times last year.
Virus Outbreak: CECC to raise alert level for EuropeCOMMUNITY SPREAD: The travel alert level for three US states is not the same as that of Europe, because the situation in the latter is more severe, the CECC head saidBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said it would issue a level 3 “warning” travel notice for 27 European countries and Dubai on Tuesday, adding that travelers from those areas would be quarantined at home 14 days upon arriving in Taiwan. The center also raised the travel notice to a level 2 “alert” for three US states and issued a level 1 “watch” notice for all countries for which no other notice had been issued. The decision to issue a travel notice for all other countries is in response to the WHO declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, he added. Meanwhile, three new cases of COVID-19 infection were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday, all of them imported, Chen said. The first new case — the nation’s 51st — is a Dutch man in his 30s who is the first officer of a commercial flight.
Lienchiang County was the region with the highest ratio of men to women, with 134.20 men for every 100 women, followed by Chiayi County with 107.96 men for every 100 women and Yunlin County with 107.36 men for every 100 women. The places with the lowest ratios of men to women were Taipei (90.92 men per 100 women), Chiayi City (94.01 men per 100 women) and New Taipei City (95.51 men per 100 women). Hsinchu County had the greatest increase in population over the past year with a 1.29 percent growth rate, followed by Taoyuan with a 1.22 percent growth rate and Hsinchu City with a 0.68 percent growth rate, the statistics showed. “It is premature to say that the nation is entering negative growth,” Department of Household Registration Affairs Director Wanda Chang (張琬宜) said. The National Development Council previously predicted that the nation’s population would start to experience negative growth in the second half of this year.
Mask littering pollutes the environment and threatens public health, as masks with nonwoven fabrics cannot naturally decompose, while used masks might carry the virus, Greenpeace Taiwan campaigner Chang Kai-ting (張凱婷) said. A discarded surgical mask lies on the ground somewhere in Taipei yesterday. The EPA would ask local authorities to increase patrolling and cleaning in areas in which littered masks are more likely to be found and post more notices, she added. In a statement yesterday, the Taiwan Pharmacist Association denounced the request. The association would provide pharmacists who experience similar treatment with legal counseling resources, it said, calling on people to respect medical professionals during the pandemic.
Ministry of Economic Affairs to help manufacturers with supply shortagesBy Natasha Li / Staff reporterThe Ministry of Economic Affairs is to assist companies in traditional manufacturing sectors cope with raw material shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said yesterday. Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin, center, yesterday speaks at the ministry in Taipei after convening a meeting with domestic manufacturing representatives about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on local industries. The ministry would help accelerate inspections for faster raw materials imports, Shen said. Local manufacturers have also asked the government to loosen regulations on employee working hours, Shen said. The ministry has to date approved applications from 169 companies seeking to invest a total of NT$78.4 billion as part of the plan.
Planning amendments advance despite defianceBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterControversial amendments to the Spatial Planning Act (國土計畫法) yesterday advanced to committee review, despite a united effort by opposition parties to vote them down. Opposition lawmakers objected to a motion tendered by the Executive Yuan that would advance the amendments it proposed last month to the Internal Administration Committee for a preliminary review. Legislators protest draft amendments to the Spatial Planning Act at the legislature in Taipei yesterday. The proposals are not meant to “let local governments who have not submitted a plan off the hook,” she said. It would clearly define the scope of “major construction projects” approved by the Executive Yuan, and limit them to green energy, agricultural and cultural projects, she said.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is spread through respiratory droplets or through contact with a contaminated surface, Chen said. A 75 percent alcohol solution or chlorine solution can sanitize surfaces and kill SARS-CoV-2, but these materials are ineffective against noroviruses and enteroviruses, he said. A 75 percent alcohol solution renders SARS-CoV-2 cells inactive, Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital physician Chen Hung-yu (陳泓毓) said. However, because bleach and other chlorine solutions contain hypochlorous acid — which destroys protein structures — they can inhibit the virus’ activity, Chen Hung-yu said. Chlorine solutions should be used within 24 hours after mixing, and should be kept away from direct sunlight and high heat, he said.
Virus Outbreak: People are making covers for masks to prolong their useStaff writer, with CNAPeople are making covers for masks to prolong their lifespan as lines to buy them have become an unwanted routine amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families’ Yunlin County branch on Tuesday insert masks into covers made by inmates at Yunlin prison. Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) on Feb. 26 said that several prisons are making covers. Taichung City Councilor Chiu Su-chen (邱素貞) said that sewing mask covers is not a challenge, as she is fond of needlework. “Such covers can prolong a mask’s lifespan, but they have to be washed every day,” Chiu said.
Badge announced for conquerors of northern DawushanBy Lee Li-fa and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe Forestry Bureau’s Pingtung Area Forestry Management Office has announced that it is to introduce a badge for climbers who have reached the summit of the tallest mountain in southern Taiwan — northern Dawushan (北大武山) — to encourage the public to visit and be closer to nature. At 3,092m in height, northern Dawushan is the only mountain in the southern Central Mountain Range to exceed 3,000m and is one of the nation’s five tallest. The Pingtung County Government holds a rite of passage for young people every year that involves climbing northern Dawushan, it said. The badge is to be accompanied by a frame with a representation of Taiwanese hemlock as viewed from Siduoli Cliff (喜多麗斷崖), as well as a photograph of the climber on the summit of northern Dawushan. A climber surnamed Chen (陳) said that reaching the summit of northern Dawushan is not easy, and the badge and photographs would be official recognition for all those who complete the climb.
A self-proclaimed “humanitarian street art performer,” he looks for disadvantaged people — especially children — to help by teaching them how to make finger paintings on glass. Tote Gallardo makes finger paintings on glass at Shilin Night Market on Thursday. Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times“I need help in Taiwan,” he says. A disabled boy in New Caledonia makes a glass painting using his mouth with the help of Tote Gallardo. As a human, I feel that it’s natural to help people.”Tote Gallardo teaches disabled children in Nepal how to make glass paintings.
Wu Sz-huai request for ‘classified’ data unnerves legislatorsSTAY IN YOUR LANE: One DPP lawmaker said that while Wu is a former general, he should focus on the issues concerning his legislative committeeBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterSeveral lawmakers yesterday expressed concerns about Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) requesting information from the Ministry of National Defense for information — which reportedly included highly classified materials on military units. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Sz-huai uses his smartphone at a KMT caucus meeting in Taipei yesterday. “In addition to requesting information on cyberdefense units, Wu also inquired about the indigenous submarine development program. Now he wants to access classified information on Taiwan’s cyberwarfare units. However, several KMT members defended Wu, saying that requesting information from government agencies is within the scope and authority of legislators.
Virus Outbreak: American man confirmed as Taiwan’s 50th virus caseBy Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporterAn American man was yesterday confirmed as Taiwan’s 50th COVID-19 case, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said, adding that it would consider placing certain US states on the nation’s travel advisory list. However, due to the size of the US, the center would issue the advisories at the state or regional level, he added. Taiwan’s newest case is an American office worker in his 50s who lives in central Taiwan and might have contracted the disease after hosting two American couples on Feb. 24, Chen said. One member of the other couple also exhibited respiratory symptoms after leaving Taiwan, also on Feb. 26, he added. They remain housed in several quarantine facilities and the CECC would continue to monitor their health, he said.
S Hotel’s occupancy slips in face of COVID-19By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterS Hotel’s occupancy has fallen to 20 to 30 percent from an average of 80 percent last year, as tourist arrivals come to a virtual standstill amid the COVID-19 outbreak, it said. The hospitality industry is bearing the brunt of the global travel restrictions imposed to hinder the spread of COVID-19. “The strategy is expected to drive up food revenue before things can return to normal,” S Hotel director of sales Vivienne Lee (李雅惠) told the Taipei Times. The hotel’s restaurant and bar facility fares better than its rooms, thanks to its relatively affordable menu in a neighborhood with plenty of professional workers, Lee said. The hotel is also offering guests a 25 percent discount for dinner sets priced at NT$1,580 and NT$1,980, plus a 10 percent service charge.
Gadgets cause insomnia: psychiatristBy Liao Hsueh-ju and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writerThe use of electronic gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, in bed has a high association with insomnia, medical experts said on World Sleep Day yesterday. World Sleep Day was initiated by the World Sleep Society in 2008 to increase public awareness about how sleep can affect mental and physical health, China Medical University Hsinchu Hospital psychiatrist Wang Ming-yu (王明鈺) said. Instead of relaxing, the brain continues to operate, causing problematic conditioning in which the brain links the bed to the use of electronic gadgets over time, she said. People who must use electronic devices at night should use them away from the bedroom and keep it as a place solely for rest, she added. Users of electronic gadgets at night should turn down the brightness of the screen so that production of melatonin remains at a normal level, Wang said.
Virus Outbreak: Lawmakers approve special budgetFLEXIBILITY: As the special budget is not bound by Articles 62 and 63 of the Budget Act, funding can be transferred between government agencies as neededBy Sean Lin / Staff reporterLawmakers yesterday approved a NT$60 billion (US$1.99 billion) special budget to fund disease prevention efforts, as well as bail out and support sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget, planned according to the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), was passed unanimously in its entirety just 16 days after it was unveiled. The Legislative Yuan had earlier this month held three joint committee reviews, during which lawmakers agreed to leave the budget intact based on a consensus that disease prevention is the top priority. Legislative Speaker You Si-kun bangs his gavel at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to mark the passage of the central government’s special budget to fund disease-prevention and industry relief efforts. The budget is not bound by Articles 62 and 63 of the Budget Act (預算法), meaning that the funding can be transferred among agencies.