More than 30 people have died in the past two days as a cold front swept the nation. It was not clear how many, if any, of the deaths were directly or indirectly linked to the cold.
Daytime temperatures plummeted to 13oC or 14oC in Taipei on Thursday and dipped to 12oC degrees on Thursday night through early yesterday as this winter’s first cold front hit Taiwan.
Taipei firefighting officials said 17 elderly people had died suddenly in the city in the past two days.
In neighboring New Taipei City (新北市), on Thursday alone, seven people died suddenly, according to municipal firefighting sources.
In Taoyuan County, a resident fell into a coma allegedly due to the cold weather and died on Thursday shortly after being rushed to hospital.
Three residents in the northern area of Hsinchu were hospitalized with cold-related complaints on Thursday and two of them died later in the day.
In Greater Tainan, three residents reportedly died suddenly on Thursday of cold-related problems.
The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said the death toll is calculated in terms of direct causes of fatality, such as diseases or accidents.
According to the agency, cold weather is not a direct cause of death, but rather an environmental factor that could cause an illness to deteriorate.
As emergency room physicians at hospitals do not necessarily mention whether a patient’s health was affected by the weather, the HPA said it is not likely to formally include weather-linked deaths in the death toll.
Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Social Welfare yesterday said that it had opened two temporary homeless shelters the previous day as temperatures dropped.
A total of 64 homeless people took refuge at the two shelters on Thursday, the department said.
The department added that it would collaborate with charities and non-governmental organizations to provide shelter to more homeless people during the winter.
According to the Central Weather Bureau, temperatures around the nation dropped sharply early yesterday, with Tamsui (淡水), Chiayi and Banciao (板橋), recording 9.5oC, 9.6oC and 9.9oC degrees respectively.
In the mountainous areas, the mercury dipped below zero, with the lowest temperature recorded on Hehuanshan (合歡山) at minus-8oC early yesterday.