Fri, May 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Prepare for long fight, Chen says

EXECUTIVE DECISIONS The president outlined his thoughts on how to get the nation back on track in the fight against SARS but warned it won't be easy

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, back center, speaks at a national security meeting on the fight against SARS yesterday.


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday warned the public to gear up for a long fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as he met with high-level national security officials to discuss the impact of the virus on the nation.

"Taiwan can not be independent from the world in the battle against SARS," Chen said yesterday after the meeting.

"The country should immediately build up an international standardized epidemic control system and make comprehensive efforts to contain the disease," he said.

The president offered five sets of instructions in a bid to defend the nation from the many effects SARS is having on the nation.

Firstly, Chen urged medical authorities to fully implement quarantine measures and prevent the spread of SARS in local communities.

A SARS combat task force led by Premier Yu Shyi-kun and president of the Academia Sinica Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) will be established with medical experts from the Department of Health and National Health Research Institutes to launch an epidemic control body.

The president also told government agencies to update information on SARS prevention work twice a day to help soothe public fears over the virus.

Chen also advised the government to make regular reports to foreign embassies in Taiwan about the latest SARS developments.

Turning his attention to financial and economic institutions, Chen had some welcome news for companies caught in the SARS cross fire.

"For those industries suffering losses from SARS, including tourism, transportation and recreation businesses, the government should dole out necessary relief funds for compensation," Chen said.

"In addition, the government should propose new schemes to stimulate investment in public construction to stimulate long-term economic revival development," Chen said.

Chen also asked the government to carefully re-evaluate the timetable for improving cross-strait transportation due to the import of SARS from China and the special administrative region of Hong Kong.

"Since SARS is an imported disease due to the constant exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, certain restriction on entering and exiting Taiwan should be imposed to effectively control the disease," he said.

"Meanwhile, the government has to make supplementary measures to provide assistance to reinforce the medical health and security for Taiwanese businesspeople in China as well as propose response measures for the return of Taiwanese businesspeople and their China-based industries back to Taiwan," Chen said.

Finally, Chen reiterated the need for Taiwan to participate with international health bodies to fight the spread of SARS.

"Taiwan must not be excluded from the global effort to combat SARS, and should reinforce its collaboration with health authorities in Hong Kong and China to allow comprehensive epidemic control," the president said.

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