The US Department of State and several prominent US politicians have criticized international organizations for excluding Taiwan amid a global effort to curb the spread of a new coronavirus.
The WHO on Thursday declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern, but did not permit Taiwan to attend emergency briefings about the virus even though there are 10 confirmed cases in the nation.
US senators, including Mitt Romney and Cory Gardner, said China has placed pressure on UN-related agencies, such as the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), to exclude Taiwan from discussions, and called instead for Taiwan’s immediate inclusion.
Photo: US White House Web site
Japan, Canada, the EU and other world powers in the past week have also renewed their support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the annual World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decisionmaking body, as an observer amid the outbreak.
The US State Department on Saturday criticized the ICAO for allegedly blocking users on Twitter who refer to Taiwan’s non-participation in the organization.
“Taiwan has a relevant and credible voice on transnational health issues, and the United States has long supported its active engagement in international venues, including ICAO, where its expertise can be beneficial,” US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
“We call upon ICAO to immediately and permanently reverse its practice of blocking discussion of Taiwan on its Twitter properties and make clear publicly its understanding that freedom of expression must always supersede the political insecurities of member states,” she said.
The ICAO denied blocking Twitter users.
In related developments, a petition submitted to a White House Web site that calls on the US to help Taiwan be included in the WHO has reached the required threshold to warrant an official response.
The petition, initiated on Thursday by someone identified only as “C.C.,” had collected more than 120,000 signatures as of 2pm yesterday.
According to the rules of the “We the People” Web site, a petition needs to gain at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days to obtain a White House review and response.
The White House says it usually gives a response within 60 days, but it could take longer, depending on the issue and the volume of petitions submitted.
The person who initiated the petition said Taiwan has “high-quality medical technology and abundant medical experiences and has been contributing to medical issues continuously.”
“However, Taiwan has always been precluded from WHO due to China’s opposition and pressure, which made Taiwan unable to access timely information from WHO at SARS outbreak,” the petition said.
Taiwan is standing “at the first line of defense” during the new coronavirus outbreak, so it should not be excluded from the WHO for political reasons, for the sake of Taiwan’s 23 million people and global safety, the petition added.
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with