Oil painters could be at risk of lead poisoning due to long-term exposure to chemicals often found in oil paints and and other paint media, a doctor said on Thursday. Taipei’s Lianching Clinic assistant director Frankie Gan (顏佐樺) said that he found excessive levels of lead in the blood of a 59-year-old artist surnamed Wu (吳) after she visited the clinic for chronic stomach pain and headaches. Long-term lead exposure significantly affects many of the internal organs and could cause stomach pain, loss of appetite, constipation, headaches, anemia, restlessness, numbness in the hands and feet, mental impairment and memory loss, and in more extreme cases could even result in chronic high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage and infertility, Gan said. The physician said that most of the people he has encountered with excessive internal lead levels had regular contact with toxic materials at work, for example in automobile manufacturing, welding and painting. Consuming produce from a farm with polluted soil or taking traditional Chinese medicine with a high lead content could also increase blood lead levels, Gan said, reminding the public to only buy medicine from certified doctors and approved pharmacies. As the body cannot easily expel toxic metals, they accumulate in fat and bone, affecting the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and nervous system, potentially leading to gastrointestinal, immune and cognitive dysfunction, Gan said. Exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum and cadmium is no longer rare, but as heavy metal poisoning does not have specific symptoms, most people do not suspect it to be the cause of their condition and do not get immediate treatment, he added. If a person cannot ascertain the cause of certain symptoms and is regularly exposed to toxic materials in their workplace or living environment, Gan recommends taking a nutrient and toxic element blood test to determine
FOCUS ON PREVENTION: Despite Taiwanese living longer than in previous years, lifestyle habits remain contributing factors to the number of tumors
If deaths caused by malignant tumors were not counted, the average life expectancy of Taiwanese would increase by 3.95 years to 84.81, the Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday. Data show that the impact of cancer — the leading cause of death in Taiwan — is still significant, the ministry said. However, the situation has improved since 2013, when the average lifespan was 4.19 years lower than today, it said. Eliminating pneumonia — the third-largest cause of death in the country — would increase life expectancy by 1.13 years, it said. The ministry compiled the data using national statistics on causes of death over the past 10 years. Cancerous tumors have been the leading cause of death in Taiwan for the past 38 years and the number of deaths from tumors annually has increased over the past decade, it said, adding that in recent years tumors caused at least 27 percent of deaths each year. Smoking, lifestyle habits, living environment and work-related stress were all likely contributors to the trend, it said. While cancer’s impact on life expectancy has improved slightly, the impact of pneumonia has worsened, it said. Average life expectancy in 2013 was increased by 0.79 years when not accounting for pneumonia, and last year the increase was 1.13 years, it said. More focus on the condition and its prevention is needed to curb the trend, the ministry said. Cancer affects longevity among men more than among women, and it is the same for accident-related injuries, cerebrovascular diseases, chronic respiratory tract diseases and chronic liver diseases, it said. Life expectancy among women was more greatly affected by heart disease, pneumonia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney-related conditions, it said.
A promotional film about Formosan rock macaques on Kaohsiung’s Shoushan (壽山) has won a Platinum Remi Award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in Houston, Texas, in the Short Subject Film and Video Productions-Documentary category, the Shoushan National Nature Park Management Office said on Thursday. In the nearly seven-minute film titled Adventure of a Lifetime (猴諧和諧), director Yang Sean-wen (楊湘文) uses a popular nursery rhyme to show the macaques in a positive light and correct some of the public’s misconceptions, the office said. The film adopts the perspective of a child hiking with his father, who explains the long family lineage of the macaques on Shoushan and how the primates learn through observation, such as staying close to humans for food. The Shoushan macaques have a peculiar relationship with humans, as they are often nearby and have learned to eat human food, the office said, adding that this has changed the animals’ foraging habits and generated conflict. The office said that it has therefore established a “three noes” policy to encourage visitors to refrain from feeding, provoking or touching the macaques. As of yesterday, eight people had been fined NT$3,000 each for failing to comply with the regulations, the office said. WorldFest is one of the US’ oldest film festivals and one of the three largest international film festivals in North America. This year, Adventure of a Lifetime was chosen from among 4,500 entries from 74 countries.
The annual all-night arts event Nuit Blanche Taipei would this year “power up” the city’s Nangang District (南港) with a series of performances and installations that facilitate “creations in solidarity,” the event organizers said. At a news conference yesterday, the Nuit Blanche Taipei artistic director Lin Kun-ying (林昆穎) said that the main objective for the event, which is to take place from 6pm on Oct. 3 to 6pm on the following day, is to gather everyone in the same place and give them a platform to interact and create art. “This year, the eastern stretch of Civic Boulevard will act as a large-scale arena to make new creations,” Lin said, adding that the event would aim to “power up” Nangang like electricity powers up a light bulb. Twenty-one art installations would be on display and 50 performance groups are to participate, Lin said. One of the highlights is the Inside Out Project — Nuit Blanche Taipei 2020 by French photographer and street artist JR, who turned portrait photographs of about 200 Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) maintenance workers into an art installation, Lin said. “All those workers had their portraits taken, smiling, wearing a hard hat and holding up a light bulb. The portraits do not just represent what Taipower personnel do, it also shows what we as people are doing in our daily lives,” he said There are also at least seven immersive works that include the audience into the performance through sound and interaction, Lin added. Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said it is meaningful that the event is to take place in Nangang, as the district is transitioning from an industry-oriented area into a high-tech and music hub. “The spirit of Nuit Blanche is city innovation, public space design, and the ability to showcase local characteristics and features.
The Gangshan Veterans’ Village Culture Association has launched efforts to conduct interviews with relatives of those killed in 1968 when a Republic of China Air Force plane crashed in what was Tainan County at the time. On June 3, 1968, a Curtiss C-46 Commando carrying an unknown number of people took off from the Republic of China Air Force Academy’s airport in Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District (岡山) bound for Taipei. It crashed near the Jishuei River (急水溪) in Tainan’s Liouying District (柳營), and the cause remains a mystery. There were no survivors. Reports from the time said that most of those onboard were military personnel and students from the Gangshan Veterans’ Village who worked or studied in Taipei. They were returning to the capital following the Dragon Boat Festival. Association director-general Chang Sheng-huang (莊盛晃) on Thursday said that former residents of the village were eager to share information they had about the incident, with some providing cuttings from the now-defunct Minsheng Daily. Former village residents Chang Chen (常溱), Lee Ting-chung (李定中) and Chou Yen-chu (周燕初) said that Monday, June 3, 1968, was the first working day after the festival. The plane, operated by the air force’s 6th Wing, had departed from the Pingtung Air Force Base before stopping in Kaohsiung, they said. According to regulations at the time, military officers and their dependents could take the plane for free, they said. As Taiwan was under martial law, the military did not report the cause of the crash, nor how many were killed, Chuang said. The incident was largely forgotten as time passed, he added. In early 2000, a man surnamed Lien (連) said the gods had told him that a streak of bad luck and family illnesses was because his land was the crash site. Lien arranged for a shrine to be built at the site, which is now a pineapple plantation, to
A delegation headed by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach yesterday met with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), and exchanged views on economic issues and possible collaborations, the Executive Yuan said in a statement. Krach arrived in Taipei on Thursday on a three-day visit. At 7pm yesterday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) hosted Krach and delegation members at a banquet at the presidential residence, a venue that symbolized the closeness of Taiwan-US ties, a source said. The US delegation has asked to keep its visit low-profile, so its meetings with Tsai, Su, other government officials and representatives from the corporate sector were not publicized, the source said. The US believes it is more important to get results from the meetings than to announce that they are happening, the source said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) met with Krach at the Taipei Guest House. The high-ranking delegation’s visit shows the US government’s consistent support for Taiwan’s democracy, the ministry said. As the US’ closest partner in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan would continue to deepen the partnership based on the foundation of mutual trust and reciprocity, it said.
TRADE SNUB: Asked whether they agreed that Taiwan must lift an import ban to facilitate more trade, respondents disagreed at a ratio of more than two to one
Sixty-nine percent of respondents in a poll opposed allowing imports of US pork containing ractopamine, while only 23 percent were in favor, the National Policy Foundation think tank said yesterday. The poll, which the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-backed foundation commissioned Taiwan Real Survey to conduct from Tuesday to Thursday, asked people aged 20 or older whether they feared a food safety crisis if imports of US pork containing the leanness-enhancing additive were to enter Taiwan, with 72.2 percent of respondents saying yes. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced that the government would set standards for ractopamine residue in US pork, lifting an import ban. The new policy is to take effect on Jan. 1 next year. The poll also showed that 45.9 percent of respondents said that they had faith in the Tsai administration’s promise to enforce strict measures requiring clear labeling of country of origin on meat products, with 43.3 percent saying that they did not. Twenty-seven percent said they believed a government promise that lifting the ban would not affect sales of locally produced pork, while 67.6 percent did not, the poll showed. It said that 58 percent would not tolerate any trace of ractopamine in US pork imports, while 37.5 percent would accept minute traces. Asked whether they agreed that Taiwan must lift the ban to facilitate more trade agreements with the US, 28.9 percent said yes, while 65.3 percent disagreed, it showed. The poll showed that 29.9 percent agreed with Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung’s (陳時中) remarks that lifting the ban would improve Taiwan’s international status, while 63.6 percent disapproved. Regarding a KMT signature drive for a referendum to overturn the lifting of the import ban, 60.3 percent said that they backed the effort, while 32.1 percent opposed it, the poll showed. The poll garnered 1,094 valid samples, with responses weighted to
More than 1,500 people, including foreign representatives, are expected to attend a memorial service for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水) today. Lee passed away on July 30 at the age of 97 and his body was cremated on Aug. 14. The memorial is to be held across three venues — an Aletheia University auditorium, and an auditorium and concert hall at Tamkang Senior High School. The main service at the university is expected to be attended by nearly 800 people, including government officials, Lee’s relatives and friends, political representatives and members of the Presbyterian Church. Foreign representatives include former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori and a delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. The service is to be held in accordance with Christian rituals — Lee was a Christian — as well as conventions for a deceased president. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is to present a presidential order of commendation in Lee’s honor, while Vice President William Lai (賴清德) would lead ministers to cover Lee’s image with the national flag, followed by Christian rituals, sources said. After a 21-gun salute, a motorcade carrying a portrait of Lee would travel to the school and after the ceremonies there to Zueishan Villa in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), where Lee lived, they said. The venues at the school are to livestream the main venue’s service and accommodate about 700 people. It is the Japanese delegation’s second trip to Taiwan after it paid respects to Lee at the Taipei Guest House on Aug. 9. Following their arrival at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) yesterday afternoon, the delegation, led by Mori, met with Tsai. Tsai thanked Mori for visiting, despite not feeling well before departure, and said that Taiwan-Japan relations would become more solid. Mori said that he fell down at
Legislation introduced on Thursday in the US urged Washington to re-establish formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and to end its “outdated and counterproductive one China policy.” US Representative Tom Tiffany said in a press release that the non-binding bill calls on the US administration to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations and to begin negotiations toward a bilateral trade agreement. Tiffany said that Taiwan and the US maintained friendly diplomatic relations until then-US president Jimmy Carter cut ties in 1979 and recognized Beijing. Shortly after that, the US Congress approved the Taiwan Relations Act, which authorized defensive arms sales to Taiwan, Tiffany said. The relationship was further “upgraded” with the “six assurances” to Taiwan during the administration of former US president Ronald Reagan, Tiffany said. Tiffany praised the “bold steps” of US President Donald Trump to initiate closer ties with Taiwan, such as approving arms sales and sending Cabinet-level officials to visit. However, more concrete actions are needed, he said. “Now is the time for America to stop parroting Beijing’s one China fantasy, and for US policy to reflect the reality that Taiwan is a free, democratic and independent country,” he said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said that Taiwan can contribute more if it is given international space. Taiwan has been an exemplary member of the “free world” and has always been willing to shoulder responsibility when called upon, Su said, adding that the nation has more to contribute to the world if the international community remains unmoved by Chinese political intervention. Additional reporting by Peng Wan-hsin
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) is to speak at the 19th US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference on Oct. 5 and 6, the first time the party is to present its national defense policy and views regarding Taiwan’s situation in the region. Chiang attended last year as a legislator, the KMT said on Thursday, adding that he would invite a senior national defense expert to join him, to further highlight the emphasis the KMT places on national defense industry collaborations with Washington. US arms sales are paramount to the Republic of China’s national defense, but both sides of the Taiwan Strait should exercise restraint in political and military matters, and seek to restabilize ties, especially as they are rapidly deteriorating, Chiang said. He called on the public to assess how arms sales are prioritized and urged the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to be more transparent over whether purchases of US arms are using funds meant for indigenous national defense programs. The KMT said that it has kept channels of communication open with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and has been in regular contact with it. Chiang has met with AIT Director William Christensen twice since he became party chairman in March, it said. The party has many channels of communication, formal and informal, with the US government, the KMT said, adding that if the Democratic Progressive Party is afraid to convey information to the US, it would be more than willing to shoulder the responsibility to facilitate communication between the Taiwanese people and US officials. The conference is held annually by the US-Taiwan Business Council, which is chaired by former US deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz.
The Control Yuan yesterday published data on political party finances from last year, showing more income and expenditure for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) than for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). According to the figures published on the Control Yuan’s public database of political contributions in Taipei, the DPP netted NT$187.46 million (US$6.43 million) and spent NT$190.61 million, while the KMT earned NT$116.61 million and spent NT$117.13 million. The New Power Party (NPP) made NT$28.82 million and had assets totaling NT$6.2 million, more than triple the NT$1.74 million it had in 2018, the data showed. In its first filing, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) netted NT$81.47 million and spent NT$38.9 million, the data showed. Of the DPP’s earnings, NT$99.69 million came from personal donations, NT$85.27 million from for-profit businesses, NT$714,000 from political donations, NT$1.78 million from anonymous donations and NT$9,067 from other sources. The party’s account stood at NT$26.94 million, up slightly from NT$20.47 million in 2018. The DPP spent NT$41.13 million on personnel, NT$34.05 million on business expenses, NT$90,300 on public relations, NT$78.54 million on elections, NT$30.8 million on political campaigns, NT$596,557 on miscellaneous expenditures and NT$5.42 million on donation reimbursements, the data showed. Meanwhile, NT$63.71 million of the KMT’s income came from personal donations, NT$51.6 million from for-profit businesses, NT$845,000 from political donations, NT$457,961 from anonymous donations and NT$4,086 from other sources, the data showed. Its account stood at NT$12.64 million, up from NT$3.54 million in 2018. The KMT’s expenses included NT$47.61 million on personnel, NT$26.11 million on business expenses, NT$256,487 on public relations, NT$16.53 million on elections, NT$20.23 million on political campaigns, NT$732,933 on miscellaneous expenditures and NT$4.79 million on donation reimbursements, while NT$880,000 was paid into the treasury. In its first year, the TPP netted NT$64.36 million from personal donations, NT$16.5 million from for-profit businesses, NT$300,000 from political donations, NT$312,643 from anonymous donations and NT$403 from
RACTOPAMINE: The KMT called on the president to apologize for flip-flopping on the US pork issue and demanded that she explain why she decided to lift the ban
The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday proposed amendments to two laws that would require a mandatory 60-day notification before the government announces a new executive order, and that there should be zero traces of the feed additive ractopamine in the offal, brains and spinal cords of local or imported pork products. Speaking at a news conference in Taipei, NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said that the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture gave only a seven-day notice before announcing legal amendments to allow the imports of certain US pork and beef products. The short notice completely undermines the spirit of the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法) and circumvents legislative oversight, leaving no time for stakeholders and the public to voice their opinion on the issue, the party said. Beef from cattle older than 30 months and pork containing residues of the leanness-enhancing additive are to be allowed to enter Taiwan starting on Jan. 1 next year, after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced an executive order easing the nation’s import ban. The NPP’s proposed changes would require a notification period of at least 60 days prior to the announcement of an executive order, allowing concerned parties to have time to hold public hearings or lectures to express their opinions, Chiu said. Government agencies could also use the time to address public concerns by presenting evaluation reports before forwarding the new executive order to the Legislative Yuan for further review, he said. The proposed amendment would allow for a shorter notice in exceptional cases, but on the condition that concrete reasons are provided, he added. Although the NPP understands that deepening trade ties with the US is important, it believes that the process can be more democratic and should better suit the dietary habits of Taiwanese, NPP Legislator Claire Wang
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), accompanied by Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), yesterday conducted an inspection tour of Taipei’s Dihua Street (迪化街), talking to vendors and members of the public who expressed concern over the government’s lifting of the ban on imports of US pork products containing ractopamine. The central government is using Dihua Street’s traditional market for a pilot project on labeling indicating the place of origin of pork products. The move came after an announcement by President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration late last month that it was easing restrictions on imports of pork products with traces of ractopamine, as well as allowing imports of beef products from cattle older than 30 months starting on Jan. 1 next year. “The Dihua Street market has already implemented origin labeling and we thank all vendors here for their cooperation,” Chen said. “We will establish a communication platform to continue talking with the local government to ensure food safety.” “People are concerned about the labeling of US pork imports, so I came here today to check and see if there are problems,” he said. “It is good to know that the Taipei City Government has put in a lot of work into this project.” Asked by a member of the public about the risk of fraudulent labeling, which is a persistent problem, Chen said that some shops already have QR codes to check and verify information, but the government needs to build up a comprehensive database and link up data from central and local governments. “We have to sit down and discuss how to set up a convenient platform for regular inspections and authentication, and to establish compliance rules that everyone has to follow,” he added. Huang said the city government has three major goals in mind, including managing the supply source from
Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) are to join the Constitutional Amendment Committee as the Legislative Yuan prepares for the commencement of the constitutional reform process. Through cross-party negotiations, it was decided that seats on the 39-member committee would be allocated in direct proportion to the number of legislative seats held by political parties, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials said yesterday. After an internal deliberation, the DPP decided to reserve two of its 22 seats for Lim and Chen, DPP caucus whip Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has 14 seats, the Taiwan People’s Party two and the New Power Party (NPP) one, he said. Lim, 44, and Chen, 35, are seen as voices of Taiwan’s younger generation, and have close links with deep-green groups in the nation. Lim, the lead vocalist of the heavy-metal band Chthonic, quit the NPP in August last year over differences with party leadership and won re-election as an independent legislator. Chen, a first-term legislator, did post-production work for movies, including Kano, the 2014 movie based on the true story of the Kano baseball team in Chiayi during the Japanese colonial period. “Amending the constitution is an important mission for this legislative session [which opens today], and it is also what the public expects of us... I am glad to join the committee, as this is an opportunity to start Taiwan’s constitutional reform,” Lim said. Chen wrote on Facebook that he is determined to join the battle and looks forward to fighting members of Chinese political parties. Work on constitutional reform is expected to prioritize lowering the age of majority from 20 to 18, which would make them eligible to vote in elections or referendums, and to marry without parental consent; and to abolish the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan. The committee is also
Environmental and human rights groups yesterday urged lawmakers to think of the climate crisis when they start reviewing bills during the new legislative session, which commences today. The groups, which are to hold a parade on Sunday next week to draw public attention to the issue of climate change, called on lawmakers to exert more effort into drafting legislation to combat its effects. Several climate-related bills that are to be reviewed this session include the budget proposal for the third-phase Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, a second special budget for COVID-19 prevention and economic relief, as well as amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法) and the Commodity Tax Act (貨物稅條例), Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan researcher Yang Shu-jung (楊書容) said. Lawmakers should consider how to mitigate the effects of climate change after failing to do so previously, she said. For example, the government had set a budget for railway underground projects, but did not promote the construction of bikeways to curb carbon emissions, she said, adding that the underground projects led to land appropriation problems without boosting transportation capacity. While the government has pushed for the installation of solar energy panels, it did not assess in advance if the sites would overlap with agricultural land or Aboriginal domains, thus resulting in many conflicts now, she said. The Cabinet’s stimulus package only offers subsidies to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic without launching incentives for green transformations, Yang added. While the government in 2015 promulgated the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, the nation’s carbon emissions in 2018 grew by 3 percent from 2005 levels, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance researcher Wei Yang (魏揚) said. Different entities — especially the manufacturing, energy, and residential and commercial sectors — did not work aggressively to meet their respective goals, he added. As the nation is to propose a second-phase greenhouse
REMEMBERING LEE: Yoshiro Mori, 83, is visiting Taiwan for a second time this year to pay respects to Lee Teng-hui, 97, who passed away on July 30
A Japanese delegation led by former prime minister Yoshiro Mori is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan today to attend tomorrow’s official memorial for former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Mori, who served as Japanese prime minister from 2000 to 2001, is to be joined by Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council chairman Keiji Furuya and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association president Yasuaki Tanizaki, during the delegation’s two-day stay, a ministry press release said. The group is to arrive on a charter flight and would abide by the Central Epidemic Command Center’s COVID-19 epidemic prevention measures, the ministry said. They are to pay tribute to Lee during a memorial to be held at the chapel of Aletheia University in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), it said. It would be the second visit to Taiwan by Mori in less than two months to pay his respects to Lee, the ministry said. The 83-year-old politician led a 16-member parliamentary delegation to pay tribute to Lee on Aug. 9 at a memorial held at the Taipei Guest House, it said. The ministry welcomed Mori’s upcoming visit and expressed gratitude, saying that sending a former prime minister to Lee’s memorial is an indication of the importance Japan attaches to the former president of Taiwan and how it cherishes ties between the two nations. Lee died on July 30 at the age of 97 at Taipei Veterans General Hospital after being hospitalized for more than five months.
DIVERTED ATTENTION CLAIMS: Citing Chen Shih-chung’s appearance at a concert in Taipei last week, Alicia Wang said the minister should ‘return’ to his job
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called on the Ministry of Health and Welfare to take more aggressive measures to ensure the authenticity of masks circulating in the nation. Masks are important for preventing the spread of COVID-19, but suspected cases of counterfeit masks — including of nonmedical-grade masks being passed off as medical-grade ones — have led people to worry, KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) told a news conference in Taipei. Management of the masks should be the ministry’s top priority, but it has failed to do a good job, Wang said, urging the ministry to adopt more aggressive measures. Citing the postponement of a new mask imprint policy that was to go into effect yesterday, she called the ministry and the Executive Yuan’s response to the suspected counterfeit mask incidents “chaotic,” adding that the public might lose confidence in the nation’s COVID-19 prevention efforts. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday last week announced that flat medical masks manufactured in Taiwan must be stamped with the words “MD” — for “medical device” — and “Made in Taiwan,” but the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday said that the start date of the policy would be delayed to Thursday next week. The central government has so far been “passive” in dealing with mask issues, Wang said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, should avoid “only thinking about promoting [himself] all day long,” or about a potential mayoral bid in the 2022 local elections, she said. The government must not only ensure that people have enough masks, but also that they are safe to use, KMT New Taipei City Councilor Chiang I-chen (江怡臻) said. KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇), who is also the committee’s deputy chairwoman, questioned the ministry’s ability to manage imports of US
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported three new imported cases of COVID-19 — Taiwanese who had returned from Myanmar, the UK and the Philippines — bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed cases to 503. All three people had been abroad for work, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the center’s spokesman. Case No. 501 is a woman in her 40s who had not shown any symptoms when she arrived from Myanmar on Sunday, Chuang said. She said that she had dined with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Myanmar on Aug. 30 and on Sunday last week, and was therefore tested at the airport before being sent to a centralized quarantine facility, he said. The center has identified 23 people on the same flight who had contact with the woman, including a friend who traveled with her, and 17 passengers who were seated in the two rows in front and behind her, he said, adding that they are in home isolation. The remaining people were crew members on the flight who are practicing self-health management, he said. Case No. 502 is a woman in her 20s who arrived from the UK on Sunday last week with no symptoms, he said. She was staying at a quarantine hotel, when on Thursday last week she reported a mild case of sore throat, and on Tuesday, she developed diarrhea, stomachaches, and nasal congestion, after which health authorities arranged for her to receive medical attention and testing, he said. Case No. 503, a man in his 30s, was in the Philippines when on Thursday last week he started showing symptoms, including nasal congestion, dry and itchy throat, coughing, a reduced sense of smell, and tightness in the chest, Chuang said. The man took medicine, but did not seek medical treatment before returning to Taiwan
A Taiwanese research team has developed a COVID-19 test kit that can deliver results in about 15 minutes with 80 to 90 percent accuracy, the group said yesterday. The rapid test is likely to be ready for the market by the end of the year, the team of researchers from the National Defense Medical Center and the National Health Research Institutes said during an introduction of the technology at a promotional event for the upcoming Taiwan Innotech Expo. Lai Szu-chia (賴思佳), an associate researcher at the center’s Institute of Preventative Medicine, said that the two greatest challenges in developing the test were isolating viral strains and setting up a viral antigen bank, which took four months and three months respectively. That work was necessary to maximize the sensitivity and specificity of the test kit, the two main factors that determine its performance, she said. A highly sensitive test should capture all true positive results, while a highly specific test should rule out all true negative results, she added. In their work on the rapid test kit, the team received technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and nearly NT$10 million (US$341,180) in funding from the institutes, Lai said. After the test kit technology was completed, it was sent to five companies — Trison Technology, Taiwan Advance Bio-pharmaceutical, Taiwan Carbon Nano Technology, Enimmune and Cold Spring Biotech — for trial production and clinical testing, she said. One of the manufacturers has already requested emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and hopes to have the test on the market by the end of the year, she added. Their test kit is different from the commonly used polymerase chain reaction tests, which are highly accurate, but also have longer processing times and are labor-intensive, Lai said. Their rapid test kit uses a nasal swab and can deliver results
BAD REPUTATION: The Taipei Animal Protection Office lists six dog breeds as ‘aggressive,’ including the pit bull, of which 1,000 are kept as pets in Taiwan
The Council of Agriculture (COA) is considering banning the ownership, breeding and trading of pit bulls, following reports of a pit bull attacking another dog, it said on Wednesday. The council has discussed a potential ban on purebred and mixed breed pit bulls with local governments and representatives of the pet industry, Department of Animal Industry Deputy Director Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全) said. An announcement previewing the policy, which would ban the import, export, ownership and breeding of the dogs, formally known as American pit bull terriers, could come as soon as late this month, Chiang said. If the plan is implemented, owners would be allowed to keep their pets, but would be required to register them with the government, he said. Statistics from the council’s national pet registry show that about 1,000 pit bulls are kept as pets in Taiwan, he said. The announcement of the potential ban follows news coverage of an incident on Sunday night, when an unleashed pit bull fatally attacked a poodle at Taipei Expo Park in Zhongshan District (中山). In a statement to the Taipei Animal Protection Office, the pit bull’s owner said that his pet had never attacked another dog before, but added that he usually walked his pet at night to prevent it from being provoked by another dog. The Taipei Animal Protection Office said the owner would be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 for failing to leash and muzzle a dog listed as belonging to an “aggressive” breed under Article 20 of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法). The office lists six types of dogs as aggressive: pit bulls, Tosas, Neapolitan mastiffs, Brazilian mastiffs, Dogos Argentino and Molossian hounds, office Director Wu Chin-an (吳晉安) said. These types of dogs can only be walked in public by an adult owner and must be properly leashed and muzzled, Wu said, adding that people can