US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media. \nSince May 1, when President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage. But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112. \nThe other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American wounded: 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. \nUnofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since Bush's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded have lost limbs. \nThe figures are politically sensitive. The number of American combat deaths since the start of the war is 166 -- 19 more than the death toll in the first Gulf war. \nThe passing of that benchmark last month erased the perception, popular at the time Baghdad fell, that the US had scored an easy victory. \nAccording to a Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans still think Iraq was worth going to war over, but a quarter want the troops out now and another third want a withdrawal if the casualty figures continue to mount. \nIn fact, the total death toll this time is 248 -- including accidents and suicides -- and as the number of non-combat deaths and serious injuries becomes more widely known, the erosion of public confidence is likely to continue, posing a threat to Bush's prospects of re-election, which at the beginning of May had seemed a foregone conclusion. \nMilitary observers say it is unusual, even in a "low-intensity" guerrilla war such as the situation seen in Iraq, for non-combat deaths to outnumber combat casualties. \nThe Pentagon does not tabulate the cause of those deaths, but according to a US Web site that has been tracking official reports, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 23 American soldiers have died in car or helicopter accidents since May 1, while 12 have been killed in accidents with weapons or explosives. \nThree deaths have been categorized as "possible suicides," three have died from illness and three from drowning. The rest are unexplained. \nWounded American soldiers continue to be flown back to the US at a relentless rate, in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. \nHospital staff are working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx, according to a report on CBS television. \nMeanwhile, at the nearby national naval medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, new Marine injuries are delivered almost daily by a medical plane known as the Nightingale.
HELPING HAND: Vaccine eligibility can likely be widened to cover pregnant women now that the nation has more vaccine doses than it planned for, Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan yesterday received a shipment of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US, obtaining its largest single batch of vaccines since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. A cargo plane of Taiwanese national carrier China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) carrying the Moderna Inc vaccines landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at about 4:30pm, after leaving Memphis, Tennessee, early on Saturday, US time. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen were at the airport to welcome the plane. The vaccines were transported to a cold chain logistics center, where they would be inspected
‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’: The US is donating the shots without any political or economic conditions, and with the singular aim of saving lives, a senior US official said The US was yesterday to ship 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, a senior US administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the nation. Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as US President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80 million US-made shots around the world. The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine would leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), early
VULNERABLE: The CECC has been moving older infected people or those with underlying health conditions, who were in isolation, to hospitals for better health monitoring The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily count since the nationwide level 3 alert was issued last month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 75 local infections are 35 males and 40 females, aged from under five to over 80, and they began experiencing symptoms between June 8 and Sunday. New Taipei City reported 38 cases, followed by Taipei with 22, Taoyuan with five, Miaoli County with three, Keelung and Taichung with two each, and Kaohsiung, Yunlin County and Changhua County with one each, CECC
‘GOAL NOT MET’: The CECC announced the enhanced implementation of six measures, including mandatory testing for some people and precise contact tracing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced that a level 3 COVID-19 alert has been extended by two weeks until July 12, while it reported 104 locally transmitted cases and 24 deaths. The alert was first issued in Taipei and New Taipei City on May 15, and expanded nationwide on May 19. It was originally due to end on Monday next week, but it was extended for the third time yesterday. “The level 3 alert will continue to be implemented until July 12,” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told a news conference at noon. “Although the situation has improved