New rules for South Korea
Travelers who visit South Korea will be fingerprinted and photographed beginning on Sunday in an effort to boost crime prevention and ensure national security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. All visitors older than 17 will be photographed and have inkless prints taken upon arrival in South Korea after presenting their landing cards and passports, the ministry said. However, children under 16, holders of diplomatic passports, members of international organizations and national guests and their families will not be subject to the new measures. Foreigners have been able to leave the country after committing crimes because South Korea did not have a biometric identification database, the ministry said.
Insurance premiums to rise
The nation’s 9.7 million-strong labor force will have to pay a higher labor insurance premium, although some of them will receive an increased minimum wage, starting on Sunday, the Council of Labor Affairs said. Under the revised Labor Insurance Act (勞工保險條例), the insurance premium will go up by 0.5 percentage points annually, from the current 8 percent to 8.5 percent, the council said. For example, on an insured average monthly salary of NT$28,650, the council said a worker will have to pay NT$29 more a month, with his employer and the government paying NT$100 and NT$14.5 more respectively. The insured monthly wages range from NT$18,780 to NT$43,900. Workers, employers and the government are required to pay 20 percent, 70 percent and 10 percent of the premium respectively, under labor insurance regulations. The minimum monthly wage will be increased from NT$17,880 to NT$18,780, while part-time pay goes from NT$98 to NT$103 a hour.
Cold, rain forecast for north
The weather in the north and northeast is expected to turn rainy starting today and then colder over the weekend, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. Intensifying seasonal winds from the northeast are expected to bring rain in the coming days and will be followed by a wet, cold air mass arriving on Saturday night that will likely pull temperatures down to 11?C on Monday and Tuesday, meteorologists said. Warm weather was forecast for yesterday, with daytime temperatures reaching 20?C in the north and 24?C in the center and south, the meteorologists said.
Monitoring stepped up
The government has enhanced its monitoring mechanism in the wake of news that US and Hong Kong authorities confirmed the presence of the swine-origin H3N2 virus and the H5N1 avian influenza virus in a child and dead chicken respectively, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said. US public health officials recently became aware of a case of H3N2 human infection in a child in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health announced a week ago that a dead chicken found in a wholesale poultry market had tested positive for the H5N1 virus. According to reports, the two viruses did not spread outside either area, but the CDC is taking precautionary measures out of concern for the public’s safety, Chuang said.
Pancreatitis on the rise
The number of patients suffering from acute pancreatitis has increased by 10 percent to 20 percent in recent weeks, probably the result of excessive drinking during the year-end party season, a family physician said yesterday. Hsieh Ying-hua (謝瀛華), of Wan Fang Hospital in Taipei, said consuming too much alcohol within a short period of time can cause a sudden inflammation of the pancreas, a condition that can carry a mortality rate of up to 10 percent. Hsieh cited a recent case involving a China-based businessman who came down with severe abdominal pain after attending three year-end parties in a single day. The patient flew back to Taiwan for medical attention the next day and was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, Hsieh said. People should make sure that their alcohol intake does not exceed 800g within two days, he said.