Six schools close doors
Six schools around Taiwan had been closed as of yesterday because of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), while 21 others are partially closed, the Ministry of Education announced yesterday. The six closed schools are Tzu Chi University Senior High School, Miaoli Special Education School, Kang Ning Junior College of Nursing, Chang Gung Institute of Technology, Taipei Municipal Chung Yi Primary School and Cardinal Tien College of Nursing, according to the ministry-issued latest report on the SARS situation. A total of 39 cases had been reported in local schools as of yesterday, with five probable cases and 27 suspected cases, according to the report.
Information journal released
The Government Information Office (GIO) has published a special journal on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to a press release. The civil affairs network under the Ministry of the Interior started distributing 7 million copies from the first print run to households throughout Taiwan starting yesterday. The journal contains information on how to prevent the spread of SARS, how to wear masks and wash one's hand, home-quarantine rules, and SARS-related hot line numbers. It also contains contingency government support for businesses affected by SARS.
Stock tax revenue falls
As the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has caused a fall in Taiwan's stock market since mid-April, the Ministry of Finance forecast on Saturday that the government's revenue from stock income tax in April was much less than that of the same month a year ago. The ministry estimated that in April, the revenue from stock income tax was around NT$3.812 billion, down 57.9 percent from the same month of last year. During the month's first half of the 22 trading days of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, the market showed signs of recovery from the sluggishness caused by the war in Iraq, with the weighted index rebounding from 4,300 points at the beginning of the month to around 4,600. Since mid-April, however, it experienced serious setbacks in the wake of the SARS outbreak.
■ Cross-strait ties
SARS may frighten investors
The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China could frighten away many Taiwanese investors from there, observers in Taipei said yesterday. Chen Po-chih (陳博志), chairman of the Taiwan Think Tank, said many foreign investors have been optimistic in recent years about the mainland's economic prospects, but the SARS epidemic there has tempered this optimism. Many of them are reconsidering their investment plans because they have come to realize that it is rather risky and difficult to do business in China, where information is controlled by the government and government policies are unpredictable. Chen said it is now necessary for the government in Taipei to take appropriate measures to help Taiwanese investors move their production facilities from the mainland to Taiwan or other countries. He said the government should help investors in labor-intensive industries move their production lines to Mexico, Latin America, eastern Europe, India, or even Iraq, and should help industries to move their production facilities back to Taiwan.