President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday issued a statement outlining the reasons why he will continue to not wear a face mask, despite pressure from politicians to do so.
The statement said that Chen would not wear a mask because: anybody who comes into close contact with the president will be screened in advance to make sure he or she is not carrying the virus; locations the president is visiting will be disinfected in advance; and the decision whether the president should wear a face mask should be one taken by the presidential medical team.
The president said he will wear a face mask if it is deemed necessary by his medical team, however he does not wish to cause public panic by wearing one all the time.
According to the press release, the president's and vice president's health has been closely monitored by the presidential medical team since SARS first appeared. The medical team reported that the two are in fine health.
The Presidential Office issued the press release yesterday in response to lawmakers' suggestion that Chen should wear a mask at public engagements.
When approached by reporters on his way to a meeting at the KMT headquarters yesterday, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) also urged the president to start wearing a mask.
Lien and other high-ranking KMT officials all wore face masks for the duration of the meeting.
"Everybody should realize that it is very important to protect yourself and protect other people by wearing a mask," Lien said.
During a meeting at the legislature's Judicial Committee yesterday, lawmakers and government officials said that the president should take good care of himself and wear a face mask when appears in public.
"We care about the president's health. Almost everybody wears masks nowadays and so should the president," DPP Legislator Chiu Chui-chen (邱垂貞) said.
Vice Minister of Justice Hsieh Wen-ting (
"I believe he has his reasons to do so. We shall respect the president's decision anyway," Hsieh said.