Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Diplomatic corps gives NT$50,000 for anti-SARS fight

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei's diplomatic corps yesterday donated NT$50,000 to the government as a symbolic gesture to support the ongoing fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The wife of Burkina Faso Ambassador Jacques Sawadogo handed over the donation to Wang Kuei-jung (王圭容), the wife of Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新), in a ceremony at the ministry yesterday afternoon.

Ambassador Sawadogo is the chief of the diplomatic corps.

The wives of nine other ambassadors -- from El Salvador, Panama, Swaziland, Nicaragua, Sao Tome and Principe, the Solomon Islands, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands and Senegal -- attended the ceremony.

Mrs. Sawadogo, in her brief remarks, noted the diplomatic corps' concerns over the fight against SARS in this country.

She said the diplomats were confident of the ability of the government and people of Tai-wan to win the battle against the disease.

Wang expressed sincere gratitude for the show of support from the diplomats stationed in Taipei.

The contribution from the envoys came amid an increase of aid from overseas Taiwanese and foreign philanthropists in the form of donations of much-needed surgical masks and full-length protective body suits.

The ministry said nearly 55,000 surgical masks -- including some N95 respirators -- as well as 61 body suits have reached Center for Disease Control and the Taipei City Government.

Taiwanese based in northern California have donated the items to help physicians and nurses combating the disease, the ministry said.

It said Taipei's representative office in Vienna helped transport 5,000 surgical masks to Taipei that were donated by an Austria-based Taiwanese who declined to be named.

Taiwanese based in Thailand have also beefed up their donations of surgical masks, according to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission.

The commission said some 120,000 masks are slated to arrive from Bangkok, in addition to 6,000 masks from donated earlier.

The Red Cross in Taiwan said it contacted its counterpart in Okinawa to seek possible donations of surgical masks early last month, prompting a Japanese man in his 80s to donate 10,000 masks.

"Since the outbreak of SARS, we were unable to buy surgical masks in Taiwan. So I rang up the Red Cross branch in Okinawa for help," said Kao Ming-han (高銘漢), director general of the Taiwan branch.

"An old man by the name of Uehara Kiyoyoshi came up to say he agreed to supply the masks," Kao said.

Kao said his office has already distributed the masks to the disadvantaged in Taipei City and Taipei County and planned to seek further help from its counterpart in Okinawa.

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