Mon, May 12, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Big Brother to help ministry enforce quarantine measures


Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien tests a video surveillance system yesterday that will be used to track people under home quarantine.


The Ministry of the Interior unveiled a plan yesterday to place videoconferencing systems in the homes of people under SARS quarantine in order to have them closely monitored.

Minister Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) said the first batch of systems will be installed today.

"The first 2,000 systems will go to Taipei City and Taipei County, the two areas that have been affected by SARS the most, and to people who have broken quarantine rules," Yu said.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, said there were technical issues regarding the plan that require further discussion.

"There are still the questions of who is going to install the system inside these homes and how it is going to be installed," Ma said.

Yu said the ministry would leave the details of the plan to the city and county governments.

The Taipei City Government also responded yesterday to other anti-SARS measures put forward by the Cabinet.

Yu suggested two days ago that everyone who entered and left the Wanhua District wash their hands and have their temperature taken.

But Ma said there are difficulties in putting this plan into place.

"Wanhua is where Taipei City and Taipei County meet, so there is a lot of inbound and outbound traffic. If we are going to stop every driver and person, traffic would be paralyzed," he said.

Regarding those who had not returned to the Huachang Public Housing Complex, the city said it has asked the police to look for the escapees and plans to fine them NT$60,000 each.

The fine would increase by NT$20,000 a day until the escapee returns or until the 10-day confinement comes to an end.

As of yesterday morning, 182 people had not returned to the complex to be quarantined.

Ma also presented a relief plan for Wanhua.

Beginning today, "we will send civil servants from all other districts to Wanhua to help out. Changcheng District will not be enlisted though, because it still has Hoping Hospital to deal with," he said.

"Civil servants from other districts will help with epidemic prevention and emergency response programs," Ma said.

A cleanup of the Wanhua District is planned for today and the city is calling on the public to avoid the area, adding the cleanup will affect traffic.

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