No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation.
As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which was holding its daily news conference outside of Taipei for the first time since it was established on Jan. 20 to respond to the novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China.
“However, we must guard against the unexpected by managing our personal health and habits,” he said. “I can say the local situation is safe now, but loopholes can occur if anyone is not careful, and then living a lifestyle of health and sustainability would be difficult.”
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times
In an effort to promote domestic tourism and a “new disease prevention lifestyle,” Chen on Saturday afternoon left Taipei with the center’s top officials for a two-day trip to Kenting and headed straight to the town’s night market on Saturday evening.
Chen was greeted like a rock star on his night market tour as hundreds of people reacted enthusiastically to his presence, with many raising their cellphones to try to take a photograph of him, some chanting “Minister A-chung [阿中, Chen’s nickname] is the best,” and a few getting close enough to ask for — and get — an autograph.
His trip had been prompted by a need to restore public confidence in Kenting after the CECC sent two warning text messages on the third day of the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend early last month urging people to practice social distancing and avoid crowded scenic areas, which caused many people to avoid the area and local businesses had suffered as a result, Chen said.
As the COVID-19 situation in Taiwan is under control, he wants to help promote and revitalize domestic tourism, starting with Kenting, he said.
He said he was proud of how Taiwanese have cooperated with the center’s policies, which enabled the nation to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19, allowing the public to freely move about as long as they keep practicing personal protective measures.
At yesterday’s CECC’s news conference, Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said he was thankful that the “disease prevention national team” had been able to block COVID-19 and allow the world to recognize Taiwan’s strengths.
However, people need to maintain the effort, meaning that they must incorporate personal protective measures into their daily lives as it returns to normal — the “new disease prevention lifestyle,” he said.
Pingtung County is ready to welcome visitors with its wide variety of agricultural products and its beautiful scenic sites, he added.
Asked about the trip, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) told reporters that although he had to continue to monitor the latest disease information, seeing how people in Taiwan can live normal lives instead of having to stay at home was more of a stress relief to him than the beautiful scenery.
Asked if the CECC would consider relaxing border controls to allow international travel, Chen said the Kenting trip was aimed at promoting safe domestic travel, so people should visit the many fun places in Taiwan first, and continue to wait to travel abroad, as the COVID-19 situation in many nations is still serious.
There are still about 100,000 new cases being confirmed every day around the world, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to more than 5.33 million, he said.
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