Sat, Feb 01, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Fears: Comics festival imposes strict health measures

Staff writer, with CNA

People wearing masks browse at the Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Nangang Exhibition Hall yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival began yesterday with strict health measures in place to prevent the potential spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The event started on the same day that the WHO declared a global health emergency over the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December.

Taiwan has confirmed 10 people infected, while China has reported 9,692 infections and 213 deaths since the virus was first identified, according to official statistics as of yesterday.

Visitors, mostly students and young adults, to the venue at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Nangang Exhibition Hall had their temperature taken and hands disinfected before entering after the doors opened at 10am.

Anyone with a temperature above 37.5°C, which indicates a fever, would be refused entry, said Huang Yung-hsueh (黃詠雪), chairperson of the Chinese Animation & Comic Publishers Association, which organized the festival.

“We have added two personnel to every entry point to help check temperatures and spray disinfectant,” Huang said.

The disinfectant is at least 75 percent alcohol, association secretary-general Roger Kao (高世椿) said, adding that “if anyone refuses to have their temperature taken or hands disinfected, they would be turned away.”

Visitors are asked to wear a medical-grade mask, Kao said, adding that anyone not wearing a mask would be denied entry to the festival’s 500 stalls and pavilions.

“Our main focus is disease prevention, nothing else matters,” he said. “The whole of Taiwan is watching.”

Because of the measures, entry to the event could take longer than at previous editions, Huang said.

However, one visitor, 14-year-old Wen Shih-teng (溫世騰), said he lined up for about two hours, when it took closer to four hours last year.

Another visitor, a 20-year-old who asked to be identified as Chung Sheng (仲生), said he lined up for about four hours, but felt that there were fewer people than previous years because of the 2019-nCoV threat.

A 39-year-old comic fan who asked to be identified as Hsiung Hsiung (熊熊) said he arrived at 7am, but it did not take long to get in once the doors opened, unlike last year when he lined up the night before to make sure he could buy the merchandise he wanted.

The festival, which features artists from Taiwan and abroad, runs through Tuesday next week.

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