About 10 critically ill refugees and asylum seekers being held on Nauru have received medical treatment in Taiwan since a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in September last year between Taiwan and Australia took effect in January, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said in Taipei yesterday.
The Guardian on May 14 reported that an Iranian refugee who had been flown to Taiwan for critical heart surgery and her 17-year-old son were on May 10 taken back to Nauru by Australian Border Force officers “against psychiatric advice.”
Deputy Representative to the UK Cheng Shyang-yun (程祥雲) on May 18 wrote a letter to the newspaper saying that the refugees were not “forcibly returned” and that the patients had “completed their treatment prior to leaving Taiwan.”
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
“In consideration of Taiwan’s high-quality medical facilities and long-standing medical cooperation with Nauru,” an MOU was signed allowing refugees and asylum seekers who require urgent medical treatment to be transferred to Taiwan, Cheng said.
The ministry last month also denied the allegations.
It confirmed that an MOU had been signed, adding that Taiwan Adventist Hospital has been overseeing the medical transfers since January.
On Friday, in an online article titled “Send them to Taiwan: Turnbull government’s secret refugee deal revealed,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian government signed “an undisclosed arrangement aimed at stopping [refugees on Nauru] from applying to stay in Australia after being treated in local hospitals.”
“The [Australian] government has never announced the memorandum of understanding and refused to release it on Friday,” it said.
“Australia is understood to have sought assistance from more countries for medical transfers. But Taiwan is the only one that has signed a deal with the Turnbull government,” the paper added.
The Guardian on Saturday in an online article reported that asylum seekers who had been flown from Nauru to Taiwan have complained of language barriers.
It reported that the MOU was signed “in an effort to prevent people indefinitely detained on the island from applying for a medical transfer to Australia.”
Lee yesterday reiterated the terms of the MOU and Taiwan’s dedication to global health.
The WHO constitution clearly states that health is a basic human right, Lee said.
To respond to the WHO’s concept of universal health coverage, Taiwan, in addition to defending its citizens’ right to health, is devoted to boosting its contributions to global healthcare, he said.
Nauru is a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, Lee said, adding that medical cooperation with that country has been going on for years and has received praise.
The MOU clearly states that Taiwan and Australia should abide by international human rights standards, and ensure that those involved are treated with dignity and receive appropriate medical treatment, he added.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a