Pope lends moral support
The Holy See supports Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, a high-ranking Vatican official said yesterday. The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Holy See had told the US that Taiwan has the Vatican's moral support in its bid. The Vatican's position may influence the attitude of the world community toward Taiwan, he said. The official said the Vatican's position may be seen as Pope John Paul II's reply to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent letter, in which Chen congratulated the pope on his 83rd birthday and asked for his support for Taiwan's bid to join the WHA and other international organizations. The Vatican sympathizes with Taiwan over its exclusion from the WHA, the official said.
Hockey trip canceled
The spread of SARS in Taiwan has caused children of the Liming Elementary School in Pingtung to be rejected from participating in the annual California Cup field hockey tournament, according to school principal Chang Fang-ming (張放明). Chang said that the school team, the champions of the National Chungcheng Cup Hockey Tournament, registered with the California Cup sponsor -- the Field Hockey Sports Center -- months ago and was scheduled to play at the annual event's division for girls under 16 on May 24. Chang said that his school received a fax from the sponsor on the eve of its departure for the US stating that Taiwan had been removed from the invitees' list due to the spread of SARS. Chang said that it has not been easy for the school in remote Pingtung County to raise the money for the school team to represent Taiwan in the event. While the school will suffer losses due to cancelations of hotel and transportation bookings, the frustration caused to the young players is worse, he added.
SARS hospitals assigned
The government has assigned 10 hospitals nationwide to accommodate patients suspected of having SARS to relieve the workload of many research hospitals. Since the outbreak of the disease, research hospitals have received numerous suspected SARS patients transferred from regional hospitals and small clinics. The accommodation of suspected SARS patients has become a serious problem because the limited medical personnel and resources of these research hospitals has been exhausted with the mounting number of newly reported cases. On the other hand, some hospitals have not taken in suspected SARS patients for fear that their treatment would be beyond the hospital's capabilities. The 10 hospitals will be able to offer 3,200 beds to suspected SARS patients, with the completion of necessary facilities.
County Commissioner dies
Hualien County Commissioner Chang Fu-hsing (張福興) of the KMT died of lung cancer at Taipei's Veteran's General Hospital yesterday. He was 61. Chang was diagnosed with lung cancer late last year. He had been undergoing chemotherapy at Veteran's General Hospital since March. According to the Law on Local Government Systems (地方制度法), an election has to be held within three months after the death of an elected local government official if the remaining tenure of the official is more than two years. Chang, who started his four-year tenure in December 2001, had 31 more months left in his term.