Virus outbreak: Academia Sinica rejects China’s virus reagent claimBy Wu Hsin-tien and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writerAcademia Sinica yesterday denied a claim by the Chinese media that China deserved credit for the institute’s development of a rapid screening reagent for COVID-19. A researcher at Academia Sinica in Taipei yesterday holds up rapid screening reagents for, from left, COVID-19, SARS and MERS. “As ‘Sinica’ means ‘Chinese’ in Latin, the organization should consider altering its name to avoid possible confusion,” DPP Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) said. Foreign academics often ask why the government does not change “Sinica” into “Taiwanica,” she said. She asked the institute, which has used Academia Sinica as its English name since 1928, to submit a report on the issue within three months.
However, there is an important fact that has escaped the attention of most observers: The route of the virus’ spread corresponds with China’s geopolitical interests around the globe. Similar to Taiwan, Japan and South Korea possess advanced healthcare systems capable of providing a high standard of medical care. However, in the global battle to combat the virus, the Japanese government’s response sticks out like a sore thumb. From the get-go, the Abe administration responded to the unfolding epidemic as if it were nothing more than a winter flu virus. All these investments necessitate a large number of Chinese workers shuttling back and forth between the two countries and they have brought the virus with them.
Leofoo Hotel to close on May 31DECLINE IN BUSINESS: The Taipei hotel would help its affected employees find work at affiliated facilities or other hotels and restaurants, Leofoo Tourism Group saidBy Crystal Hsu / Staff reporterLeofoo Tourism Group (六福旅遊集團) yesterday said that it would close its 48-year-old Leofoo Hotel (六福客棧) in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山) on May 31 to pave the way for a regeneration project and curb losses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Leofoo Hotel is pictured in Taipei City’s Zhongshan District in an undated photograph. Photo: Wang Yi-hung, Taipei TimesThe hotel’s Chinese Golden Phoenix Restaurant (金鳳廳) would close on March 31 and the guestrooms would follow on May 31, the group said. However, Leofoo Tourism Group said it would stay in the industry with a focus on the maintenance and cleaning of high-end properties, using the know-how it has gathered over the past 50 years. Leofoo Hotel sits on a 380 ping (1,256m2) lot and is qualified for favorable development terms to encourage the regeneration of old and dangerous buildings.
Virus outbreak: CECC tests online mask-buying systemBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday that it is testing an online system for buying masks using National Health Insurance (NHI) cards, while no new cases of COVID-19 were reported for a third consecutive day. The system was being “pressure-tested” yesterday in a bid to prevent a crash if too many people tried to log on at the same time, Chen said. Using convenience stores for collecting online mask orders was one of the options being considered, he said. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said that details, such as whether people would have to insert their NHI card into a card reader to order masks online, are being discussed. The policy, which has been in effect at Taipei Main Station since Feb. 29, would be rolled out at Ximen Station, Banqiao Station, Taipei City Hall Station, Longshan Temple Station and Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, Taipei Rapid Transit Co employee Ling Chi-yao (凌啟堯) said.
Democracy researcher urges preservation of memoriesBy Jason Pan / Staff reporterIt is important to preserve the history of Taiwan’s democratization and memories of the 1979 Formosa Incident, Academia Sinica research fellow Wu Nai-teh (吳乃德) said yesterday. Wu made the remarks in Taipei at the launch of his latest book, titled Taiwan’s Finest Hour, 1977-1987 (臺灣最好的時刻, 1977-1987). Academia Sinica research fellow Wu Nai-teh smiles while talking about his new book in a Taipei bookshop yesterday. It is important to record the accounts of those who faced trial and to document the Formosa Incident for young Taiwanese, he said. It describes the military trials and other key events in Taiwan’s democratization.”“If Taiwan’s democracy is put at risk, it is up to young people to have the will and courage to stand up and safeguard our freedom and democracy,” he said.
Bank fraud suspect back in Taiwan after US arrestStaff Writer, with CNAA woman accused of defrauding nine Taiwanese banks out of NT$38.6 billion (US$1.28 billion at the current exchange rate) yesterday arrived in Taiwan to stand trial after being arrested in the US late last year, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau said. She was subsequently arrested by bureau agents and taken to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, it said. Former New Site Industries Inc co-owner Wang Ying-chih, center, is escorted by Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau officers at Taiwan Taoyuan International airport yesterday. The couple fled the nation in June last year and a warrant for their arrest was issued in August. US immigration agents arrested the couple in Los Angeles on Dec. 12.
No telegram from Beijing for ChiangDIFFERING VIEWPOINTS: China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it hoped that Chiang would follow the ‘1992 consensus,’ a principle that the new KMT chairman has called outdatedBy Lin Liang-sheng and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writerIt is “not necessarily a bad thing” that newly elected Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) has not yet received a congratulatory telegram from Beijing, a KMT legislator who asked to remain anonymous said yesterday. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman-elect Johnny Chiang yesterday holds a tray of offerings during a ceremony at Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung’s Dajia District. Chiang yesterday said that not receiving a telegram from Xi would not affect his promotion of reforms. Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday released a statement congratulating Chiang. New Power Party Chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), who was a former colleague of Chiang’s at Soochow University, also passed on his congratulations.
State-owned CAL, which had asked its employees to take their temperatures by themselves since the outbreak began in late January, said it would take staff’s temperatures before they board shuttles to airport terminals, starting today. “Employees with temperatures higher than 37°C would not be allowed to board shuttles and would be advised to take a day off. Employees who do not take company buses would have their temperatures measured before entering offices or airport terminals, Liu said. It canceled 1,400 flights last month and suspended about 3,000 flights this month, with another 2,100 flights expected to be cut next month, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported on Monday. EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) has also asked its employees to take time off amid continued low travel demand.
Virus outbreak: Another day with no new cases: CECCHOME IS BETTER: Given that 29 countries have more COVID-19 cases than Taiwan, people should avoid unnecessary travel abroad, Chen Shih-chung saidBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterTaiwan reported no new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said that DNA sequencing on the woman who is the nation’s 39th case indicated that she had contracted the virus during a trip to Egypt. Photo: Chiang Ying-ying / AP“Taiwan is now in 30th place in the number of confirmed cases in each nation, meaning there are 29 countries that have reported more cases than us,” Chen said. The sequence was very close to a clade (line of evolutionary descent) found in Europe, mainly in Italy, but also in cases reported in the UK, Luxembourg and Finland, Yeh said. “The analysis clearly shows that the woman did not contract the virus in Taiwan, but in Egypt and brought it back to Taiwan,” Yeh said. The three were the nation’s 18th, 26th and 29th cases, who were all asymptomatic cases and part of three family clusters of infection, Chang said.
CECC changes news conference rules to reduce contagion risk, set exampleBy Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would reduce the number of people attending its news conferences and seat reporters farther apart to set an example for COVID-19 prevention at such gatherings. The center said that it holds daily news conferences that are attended by about 120 to 150 people in a space of about 48 ping (159m²), therefore the conference venue is considered to have a high risk of contagion. The nation’s disease prevention operations would be hindered if a suspected case were to be detected at the venue, it added. Reporters attend the Central Epidemic Command Center’s regular news conference in Taipei on Feb. 22. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Friday night said that the center would rearrange its news conference setting.
Virus Outbreak: Hospital workers urge better trainingBREAKING POINT: The open letter says that following pay cuts last year and neglect, the COVID-19 crisis has left more frontline medical personnel in a ‘state of anxiety’By Lee I-chia / Staff reporterThe Taipei City Hospital Labor Union has issued an open letter on Facebook to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), urging the Taipei City Government to give proper training and compensation to frontline medical practitioners who are handling COVID-19 treatment. Messages written on a wall thanking medical personnel are shown at an event organized by graffiti artists at a legal graffiti area in Tainan’s Siwei Underpass yesterday. “Following neglect by the city government and the hospital, many workers have gradually left their posts,” the letter says. It asks Ko, the hospital and the Ministry of Health and Welfare for remedial measures, including a training program for medical practitioners caring for COVID-19 patients. It also asks for clear rewards and compensation for frontline medical practitioners who are caring for COVID-19 patients, as well as accommodations if they are forced into mandatory quarantine due to their work.
Virus Outbreak: Sculptor creates bust in honor of health ministerBy William Hetherington / Staff writer, with CNAA sculptor has carved a bust of Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) to thank him for his devotion to preventing COVID-19’s spread in Taiwan. Sculptor Huang Tien-fu works on a bust of Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung in his studio in Taipei yesterday. Chen is effective and calm, and he is good at articulating things, Huang said, adding that Chen always answers people’s questions. However, the underlying skills remain the same, Huang said, adding that he was able to craft Chen’s likeness from pictures he found online. He plans to send the bust to Chen, Huang said, adding that he also plans to sculpt President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
Johnny Chiang sweeps KMT voteCHANGE PROMISED: Hau Lung-bin did not wait for the final count before acknowledging defeat, while Chiang celebrated the handover to the next-generation KMTBy Shih Hsiao-kuang, Chen Yun and Jake Chung / Staff reporters, with staff writerChinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) won the party’s chairperson by-election yesterday with nearly 69 percent of the vote over former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌). In Taipei, where Hau served as mayor from 2006 to 2014, Chiang garnered nearly 60 percent of the votes, gaining about 2,600 more than Hau. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang, center, smiles at the legislature in Taipei yesterday after winning the party’s chairperson by-election. Chiang said that he would institute organizational changes in the KMT and place less emphasis on party headquarters and more on local party chapters. “The KMT from now on will be a party that is more modern and swift to respond to demands,” Chiang said.
Virus Outbreak: Liner evacuees discharged after finishing quarantineStaff writer, with CNAAll 19 Taiwanese who were evacuated from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship were early yesterday released from quarantine. They were discharged after a third round of testing for COVID-19 on Friday found that none had contracted the disease. Chen Jih-sheng, left, who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, is welcomed by his mother in Taipei after being released from quarantine yesterday. Chen Jih-sheng, a magician who had performed on the cruise ship, also praised the government’s efforts to contain the virus’ spread in Taiwan. The remaining 19 were allowed to leave the ship over the course of three days before being placed in quarantine.
Taiwan in Time: Bloodshed in Taiwan’s eastBy Han Cheung / Staff reporterMarch 9 to March 15All was calm in Hualien County’s Fenglin Township (鳳林) when the 228 Incident broke out in Taipei. The cover of Kavalan 228 features Kuo Chang-tan, the Yilan Hospital director who was killed in the aftermath of the 228 Incident. This was one of the higher profile tragedies to fall upon Taiwan’s east coast in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) brutal suppression of the uprising. “Some say that Yilan was neither the center of the 228 Incident, nor did many people die. The only victims mentioned in the book Hualien Fenglin 228 (花蓮鳳林二二八) were the three members of the Chang family.