Starting from March and especially during the past few days, many experts have been saying that full-scale screening for COVID-19 is not necessary. Nonetheless, the Kaohsiung City Government on Thursday last week decided that about 4,000 doctors and nurses in Kaohsiung should be tested for the virus.
Thankfully, following some protests, the city government agreed to make the tests voluntary.
However, this issue raises a number of points.
The first point is that any kind of test would produce some false negative and false positive results, which often have to do with the way samples are collected.
Of course there would be relatively few false negatives and false positives if screening is performed on people who are strongly suspected of being infected. In other words, there would be a relatively high rate of accuracy.
However, there would be more false negatives and false positives if screening is performed on a large number of people who show no symptoms.
If this were to happen at a time such as now, when doctors and nurses are under heavy pressure at work, it would surely create a situation in which they and the people around them cannot work, and where some of those who are really sick with COVID-19 feel safe to go on working, which would make it more likely for them to infect other people.
The second point is that if doctors and nurses are assumed to be a high-risk group who needs to be screened, then obviously other hospital staff and their family members are no less at risk.
If that is so, should they not all be screened, too?
The third point is that screening only shows a person’s situation on the day of the test. It cannot show what would happen any number of days later.
It is just as if someone has a lung computed tomography scan in January that does not reveal any sign of lung cancer — it does not mean that lung carcinogenesis would not occur in the same person in June.
So, if authorities want to know whether doctors and nurses are in normal health, they would have to test them every day, otherwise it would be pointless — but that would be impossible.
Some people have suggested locking cities down or at least holding lockdown drills, but the central government’s disease control experts say there is definitely no need to consider such measures now, as the outbreak has not yet spread out of control.
Doing so could actually have the undesirable effect of causing fear and social unrest.
Given the existence of the Central Epidemic Command Center, it should have full powers to direct and coordinate the disease-control policies and decisions adopted at various levels of government nationwide.
Politicians would do better to calm down, stop thinking of themselves as experts and desist from making outlandish decisions on the grounds of taking pre-emptive measures.
Officials must bear in mind that the recent COVID-19 outbreak on a navy ship occurred precisely as a result of the Ministry of National Defense placing itself outside the authority of the center.
Jeremy Wang is a retired family physician.
Translated by Julian Clegg
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday last week announced it would impose sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a vast paramilitary organization that is directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has been linked to human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions follow US travel bans against other Xinjiang officials and the passage of the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which authorizes targeted sanctions against mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to Beijing’s imposition of national security legislation on the territory. The sanctions against the corps would be implemented
US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders barring Americans from conducting business with WeChat owner Tencent Holdings and ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of popular video-sharing app TikTok. The orders are to take effect 45 days after they were signed, which is Sept. 20. The orders accuse WeChat of helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) review and remove content that it considers to be politically sensitive, and of using fabricated news to benefit itself. The White House has accused TikTok of collecting users’ information, location data and browsing histories, which could be used by the Chinese government, and pose