The government would stabilize the stock market and boost disease-prevention measures to contain COVID-19, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, adding that people hoarding supplies would face penalties.
Tsai, accompanied by Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), told a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei that the situation on the ground would dictate whether fast-tracked legislation or emergency presidential decrees would be necessary, while existing regulations adequately allow the government to respond.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), along with the Taiwan People’s Party, had on Wednesday called on the government to issue an emergency presidential decree to provide a legal basis for disease-prevention efforts, as well as to resolve whether restrictions in place are infringing on the constitutionally guaranteed right to free movement.
Tsai said that now is not the time to point fingers, but to join together with the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
While the restrictions are inconvenient, they help protect both the patient and the public, she said, adding that such measures reduce the stress on medical personnel.
Tsai said that she wished to thank the public for their compliance and the nation’s medical personnel for their tireless work.
The public should avoid spreading false news and adding to the panic, she added.
The nation has a plentiful supply of all medical products and mask production is to be increased if needed, Tsai said, adding that the border controls that went into effect yesterday are focused primarily on travelers and not the flow of goods.
Stockpiling goods and reselling them for profit is illegal and offenders would face severe consequences, Tsai added.
Addressing public concern regarding the economy, Tsai said that Taiwan has been affected by the pandemic, but remains strong and stable compared with other countries.
The government has allocated NT$100 billion (US$3.28 billion) in stimulus money and subsidies can be increased, she said.
A NT$110 billion subsidy to aid the tourism and airline industries has also been allocated, the president said.
Tsai, addressing comments made by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) on Feb. 21, said that the narrow and politically fixated mindset of certain individuals contributes nothing to the prevention of COVID-19.
TAO spokesperson Zhu Fonglian (朱鳳蓮) said that Taiwan’s bid to join to the WHO was an attempt to use COVID-19 to further the pro-Taiwan independence agenda of the Democratic Progressive Party.
The virus is a global pandemic and Taiwan cannot stop at protecting just itself, Tsai said, adding that many countries have expressed a willingness to work with Taiwan on disease-prevention efforts.
Taiwan has demonstrated its resilience and strength during this pandemic, and nations around the world should step up collaboration to stop the coronavirus — and Taiwan can help, she said.
“I have tasked Vice President Chen with handling all collaborative efforts,” Tsai said, adding that it is Taiwan’s “international responsibility” as a member of the global community.
Additional reporting by CNA
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