Sun, Jan 26, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Su defends ban on mask exports

KAOHSIUNG WARNING:A man who was the second confirmed 2019-nCoV case in Taiwan was at the Jin Bali Grand Ballroom on Wednesday without a mask

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Premier Su Tseng-chang speaks to reporters yesterday during a visit to the Jieyun Temple in New Taipei City’s Banciao District.

Photo: Chiu Shu-yu, Taipei Times

“To save others, you must save yourself first,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday as he defended the government’s decision to ban exports of N95 respirators and other masks for one month.

To ensure local supply of masks amid fears that the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could spread domestically, the Customs Administration on Friday banned exports of all masks made of woven materials until Feb. 23.

The ban came in the wake of the worsening 2019n-CoV outbreak, as China first tried to conceal the disease, and has performed poorly in trying to contain it, Su said.

The government’s decision has drawn criticism, with media personality Joyce Huang (黃智賢) calling Su “inhumane” on Facebook for formulating the ban.

However, the premier yesterday again condemned China’s repeated sidelining of Taiwan at the WHO, and barring its participation unless it acknowledges Beijing’s “one China” principle, making it unable to share its knowledge, information and experience with the world.

As disease prevention knows no boundaries, Beijing’s boycott is wrong, regrettable and exposes China’s willfulness and irrationality, he added.

Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday warned patrons and staff of Jin Bali Grand Ballroom (金芭黎舞廳) in Kaohsiung’s Lingya District (苓雅) that they might have been exposed to the virus, as a Taiwanese businessman in his 50s, who was one of two people on Friday confirmed to have 2019n-CoV, was at the club on Wednesday from 4pm to 6pm.

As the man had not worn a mask, the center said it wanted to alert people who might have come into close contact with him to monitor their health for 14 days.

If they develop a fever or start coughing or hyperventilating, they should immediately call the tollfree 1922 hotline and list the places they have visited, it said.

Kaohsiung Department of Health specialist Pan Chao-ying (潘炤穎) said a female employee of the ballroom developed symptoms of a respiratory infection yesterday morning and sought treatment, adding that the ballroom closed yesterday for at least two days and has begun disinfecting its premises.

The businessman would be fined NT$300,000 for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) by not reporting that he had symptoms of an upper respiratory infection when he arrived at Kaohsiung International Airport on Tuesday, Pan said.

The health of people that the man has been in contact with since his return would be monitored until Feb. 5, Pan added.

The other case confirmed on Friday is a Chinese woman who is part of an 18-person tour group from Wuhan.

The rest of the group were scheduled to leave Taiwan yesterday, Tourism Bureau division head Liu Shih-min (劉士銘) said.

As of 3pm yesterday, 193 cases of people displaying pneumonia-like symptoms have been reported, of which three had been confirmed to have 2019-nCoV, while the virus has been ruled out in 64 cases and 126 people remain under quarantine, the center said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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