The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that Taiwan was off the list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS.
WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland led a global telephone briefing at 3pm yesterday to declare Taiwan free of the disease.
The health body said that with Taiwan off the list, "the human-to-human chain of transmission of this new disease appears to be broken globally."
Shortly afterward, Premier Yu Shyi-kun held a press conference to respond to the WHO announcement and to review what he called the country's "unprecedented war" against the disease.
"President Chen Shui-bian (
A huge banner hung behind Yu read: "The world has seen Taiwan's efforts [in fighting SARS]."
The WHO said it has been 20 days since the last case surfaced on June 15.
"Taiwan is the last area to be removed from the list," the health body said.
Expressing the country's happiness that the country has finally been removed from the list, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (
"During the outbreak, we saw the true face of China and the hard reality Taiwan faces in the international community," Lin said.
Yu and Lee Ming-liang (
"The battle against SARS was like a race. Taiwan's outbreak began later than other countries', just like a sprinter starting running later than his competitors. That's why we reached the final point later than other countries," Lee said.
Although he avoided mentioning whether the WHO's slowness in removing Taiwan from the list was the result of pressure from China, Yu called for the health body "not to allow politics to pollute health."
He cited numbers to prove Taiwan's belated removal from the list was not the result of a weak effort in fighting SARS.
"Beijing stayed on the WHO travel advisory list for 63 days, Guangdong and Hong Kong 52 days and Taipei only 41 days," Yu said.
The WHO later extended the travel advisory to all of Taiwan.
"But the travel advisory lasted only 28 days," Yu said.
The relatively short period Taiwan was on the travel advisory list proved the country's anti-SARS measures were effective, he said.
It took Hong Kong two months to go from the peak of the epidemic there, during which 80 SARS cases were being reported daily, to zero infection. Singapore reported 22 cases a day during its peak and also needed two months to bring its infection rate to zero.
"Taiwan, during its peak, reported 60 SARS cases in a single day. We took only 3.5 weeks to bring the country from its peak to zero infection," Yu said.
The numbers, he added, proved Taiwan was not inferior to other countries in its capacity to fight SARS.
"But we are not conceited. The post-SARS reconstruction has begun," Yu said.
When the epidemic was raging, "some felt the nation might collapse," he said.
As experts warned that SARS might re-emerge this winter, Yu urged governmental agencies to prepare for the possible comeback of the disease and to face "the next wave of challenges."
Meanwhile, Lee thanked the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO for their help in containing the outbreak.
"I am grateful for your help," he said.
Lee said the outbreak exposed the healthcare system's weak points and demonstrated the need for its overhaul.
Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), director-general of the Department of Health, said Taiwanese people have become strong because of SARS.
"When the disease broke out in Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, we lost confidence. Suspicion and distrust developed. We have stumbled, but we have stood up again," Chen said.
Su Ih-jen (
Also See Stories:
SARS won't limit cross-strait trade, expert says
SARS leaves trail of job vacancies in its wake
Experts, officials warn public to stay on SARS alert
China holds `death of SARS' banquet
BLUE WAVE: The KMT’s Chiang Wan-an defeated the DPP’s Chen Shih-chung and is to become Taipei mayor, while President Tsai Ing-wen stepped down as DPP chairperson after many of the party’s candidates, handpicked by the leadership, performed poorly The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday flipped key mayoral seats in Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung, and won control of 13 out of 22 cities and counties in the nine-in-one local elections. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last night resigned as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson over a poor showing by the party’s candidates, who were handpicked by the DPP leadership rather than chosen through primaries. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) won its first high-profile race with Hsinchu mayoral candidate Ann Kao (高虹安) defeating Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) of the DPP with 45.02 percent of the vote to Shen’s 35.68 percent. Voters were choosing more than
UNDETERRED: The US chip designer’s plan showed that Taiwan remains attractive for investment by global companies despite cross-strait tensions, Wang Mei-hua said US graphics chip designer Nvidia Corp is planning to relocate its Hong Kong-based logistics center to Taiwan, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said on Wednesday. The government had been in discussions with Nvidia regarding tax incentives to facilitate the move since last year, Wang said in an interview with the Central News Agency, adding that the two sides had reached a consensus. Wang did not provide details about the timetable for the move or the planned tax arrangements for Nvidia. The relocation would boost the local economy, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is a major supplier of graphics processing
Kaohsiung police last week busted a money laundering operation suspected of seeking to interfere in tomorrow’s local elections. The operation was allegedly headed by a man surnamed Lee (李), who had received NT$9.5 billion (US$306.18 million) from China over the past six months, Kaohsiung police said yesterday, adding that Lee’s ring is suspected to be part of a larger Chinese effort to interfere in the elections and support pro-China candidates. Officers arrested Lee, 35, and his girlfriend, searched his mansion, and seized the money he had allegedly received from China and three luxury vehicles, police said. The operation was disguised as an online
CAUTION: Wearing a mask in crowded places and for people with chronic illnesses or allergies can help prevent COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the CECC said The mask mandate for outdoor settings is to lifted on Thursday, and the weekly cap on international inbound travelers is to be removed on Dec. 10, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its regular news conference yesterday. The center also announced that starting from Friday, children aged five to 11 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, and that rules for visiting hospital patients are to be partially eased from Dec. 10. While wearing a mask will no longer be mandatory outdoors, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝) reminded the public that it would still be required