Wed, May 07, 2003 - Page 2 News List

DPP denies hoarding reports

RUMORS Responding to reports in Chinese-language newspapers, the premier said the government would investigate all reported cases of stockpiling such supplies

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Top DPP officials yesterday denied that a DPP legislator has been hoarding surgical masks amid the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) scare.

A local Chinese-language newspaper yesterday reported that aides of a DPP legislator had pressured the Department of Health to purchase their masks, including the N95 medical masks.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that the government would investigate any suspected cases of hoarding the medical masks.

Yu made the comments after the DPP's regular Central Executive Committee meeting.

"The Fair Trade Commission has been investigating suspected mask-hoarding cases," Yu said. "Should anyone be found guilty of hoarding or of producing counterfeit masks, the government will insist on severe punishment."

DPP Vice Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said, "To my understanding, I don't believe that any of our DPP legislators would behave like that.

"But we can't be sure if there were other people, including lawmaker's aides, who may use the lawmaker's name in making unscrupulous requests. The DPP administration would not hesitate to punish any one found to be hoarding masks," he said.

Amid strong public demand for N95 masks, Yu said that supplies are sufficient.

"The government is capable of supplying about 63,000 N95 masks per day, which easily meets the supply demand of 10,000 masks per day as required by medical workers tending SARS patients," Yu said.

Lee urged the public not to panic over the shortage of N95 masks, as only medical workers having direct contact with SARS patients need the masks.

"Not everyone needs the N95 masks," he said. "Other medical workers and the public, if they stay indoors, only need to wear conventional surgical masks," Lee said.

Lee said medical facilities can call the Center for Disease Control to obtain the N95 masks.

DPP headquarters said yesterday that it would mobilize 500 of its party members to serve as a "SARS-combat workforce" to battle the spread of the disease.

"The spread of SARS has so far been mainly through the medical facilities," Lee said. "Now is an important time to prevent the virus from creeping into the local communities."

"The DPP will mobilize party members to assist in community disease-prevention work, including sterilization efforts," Lee said.

Asked by reporters to comment on the NT$1 million donation from KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) for the SARS-combat work, and the provision of space for quarantine, Lee said that the DPP recognized all the assistance and support it had received from people in every walk of life in combating the disease.

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