Thanks to the SARS outbreak, an old vagrant in the Taoyuan area has become a quadruple millionaire.
The elderly man, surnamed Hsu, was given accommodation at a halfway house in early May out of concern that homeless people might be carriers of the disease.
Taoyuan County social workers later found that Hsu was a retired soldier who had not received his monthly retirement pension payment since becoming destitute many years ago.
A further check showed that Hsu's unclaimed pension had reached more than NT$4 million.
Hsu was drafted into the KMT army during the Chinese civil war.
He came to Taiwan in 1949. Upon his discharge, Hsu had attained the rank of sergeant first class.
After leaving the army and living alone for many years, Hsu's home was robbed and he lost all his money and personal belongings.
He then became a vagabond, initially sleeping on the streets or wherever he could find shelter in metropolitan Taipei, before shifting to Taoyuan County for a less complicated place to be hopelessness.
Hsu, now in his late 70s, said the initial feeling he had upon learning of his accumulated fortune was that he would no longer have to worry about a lack of money to see a doctor if he falls ill.
The septuagenarian homeless man said that his greatest desire was to return to his hometown in China's Fujian Province to meet his two brothers with whom he lost contact more than half a century ago.