The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 16 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and two deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 10 of the local cases tested positive during or upon completing isolation. The infection sources of 13 cases have been identified, while two are unclear and one remains under investigation, Chen said. Ten cases were reported in New Taipei City, four in Taipei and two in Chiayi County, he said. The cases in New Taipei City included a cluster of infections, which the local government quickly handled by identifying close contacts and isolating them, he said, adding that follow-up testing is still being conducted. In addition to the two deaths, the center also reported three imported cases — arrivals from the Philippines, Malaysia and Russia. The two cases in Chiayi County are connected with a factory cluster — nine factory workers and two family members — reported last week, Chen said, adding that the cases were two more family members. All close contacts are being tested for COVID-19, he said. On Saturday last week, Chiayi County set up nine community screening stations, five of which are to continue operating until Saturday, Chen said. Yesterday, 1,604 people were screened, he added. “The [factory cluster] situation seems stable and under control,” Chen said, adding that genome sequencing showed that the people linked to the factory cluster had contracted the Alpha variant of SARS-CoV-2, which has been circulating in the nation. Separately yesterday, a group of swimming pool operators held a rally in front of the Centers for Disease Control building in Taipei, petitioning the CECC to allow pools to reopen. Asked for comment, Chen said that a disease prevention plan had been submitted — proposing that young competitive swimmers be allowed to resume training — but had yet to be approved, as the proposal’s
RIP BROTHER RONG: Zoo officials said staff members were sad to see the macaque’s health decline, but the veterinary team was unable to find clear signs of illness
Visitors would miss the “Monkey King” at the Formosan rock macaque enclosure, but the Taipei Zoo said on Monday that it was deemed more humane to have him euthanized, after consultation with veterinarians and his handlers. Over the past month, the Monkey King — or Brother Rong (榮哥), the troop’s alpha male for more than two decades — had developed health problems that left him weakened, unable to eat or take care of himself, and with an obvious decline in activity and bodily function, the zoo staff said. After consultation rounds, it was decided to put him down on Tuesday last week, the zoo said. Formosan rock macaques, the only primate species endemic to Taiwan, are social animals that live in matriarchal clans usually dominated by an alpha male who is recognized by the matriarchs and other troop members, zoo officials said. Rank and social status define the hierarchy of a troop, and the macaques compete to find their place, they said, adding that those with the best physical attributes and health dominate. The victors make up the troop’s core, entitling them to eat and mate first, but giving them the responsibility of defending the troop, mediating disputes, and raising the young, zoo officials said. The staff were sad to see Brother Rong’s health decline, but the veterinary team was unable to find any clear signs of illness, they said. The veterinarians thought the decline resulted from his long tenure as the Monkey King — the stress of leading the troop and imposing his authority every day had left him mentally and physically exhausted, they added. Due to the social structure, isolating Brother Rong to treat his health issues could have caused more stress, the veterinarians said. Chen Ching-ming (陳進明), a senior handler of Formosan rock macaques at the zoo, said he had worked with Brother Rong since his
Three 24-hour “smart” battery recycling stations recently set up around Hsinchu are capable of accepting seven sizes of dry-cell batteries in exchange for points that can be used for discounts throughout the city. Aiming to encourage recycling while also reducing contact during the COVID-19 outbreak, the city collaborated with recycling start-up Ecoco to create the “battery hubs,” Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) said on Monday. Taiwanese use 11,000 tonnes of dry-cell batteries every year, but only about 4,000 tonnes are recycled, the Hsinchu Environmental Protection Bureau said, citing Environmental Protection Administration data. To ensure that more of these batteries are recycled, the city collaborated with Ecoco to offer a solution that is flexible and attractive to consumers, it said. The smart battery hubs can accept as few as one battery in exchange for Ecoco and Green Points, which can be spent on discounts or offers from participating businesses, the city said. The machines are located at two MilkShop stores on Minzu Road and Beimen Street, and at the Showba general goods store on Dazhuang Road, the firm’s Web site shows. They accept D, C, AA, AAA and AAAA batteries, as well as 9-volt batteries, but not the coin-type batteries, it said. To collect points, users must first download the Ecoco Circular Economy (Ecoco循環經濟) and Green Point (環保集點) apps, the city government said. Users can earn 250 Green Points for each battery, as well as 10 Ecoco points for type D and C batteries, and five points for other sizes, it said, adding that the stations are to be set up until Dec. 31. On the Green Point app, 100 points are equivalent to NT$1 and can be used on public transportation, as well as at most major convenience stores and other participating businesses, it said. Ecoco points can be exchanged for discounts or offers from nearly 100 businesses, including Showba,
Wearing gloves in shopping venues or supermarkets can spread viral pathogens to more surfaces, instead of protecting the wearer, a medical expert warned on Tuesday last week. Most medical gloves are not designed to stop viruses, pulmonologist Ooi Hean (黃軒), director of China Medical University Hospital’s International Center, wrote on Facebook. While gloves can protect the skin from body fluids and certain harmful chemicals, touching a surface can allow viral pathogens to penetrate the polyester material via microscopic holes at a rate of several thousand per second, he said. Another risk associated with gloves is inadvertently transferring contaminants to the skin during their removal, he said. One study on a superbug found that 13 percent of medical workers who handled a contaminated source and then removed their gloves without washing their hands were later found to have the bacteria on their hands, he added. Gloves are fragile and can tear if not inspected often, he said, adding that dampness, heat and abrasions cause polyester to degrade. Gloves also diminish a person’s sense of touch — not feeling an object’s griminess or stickiness can prevent them from realizing that it is unsanitary, he said. “Studies have shown that gloves can give people a false sense of security and encourage them to touch more surfaces, like elevator buttons and shopping carts,” he said. Wearing gloves in daily life does not protect the wearer or reduce the risk of viral transmission, he said, adding that health experts recommend frequent hand washing. Wearing gloves is appropriate when providing care for an infectious patient, cleaning, or working around sharp objects or harmful substances, he added.
Disputes over the financial details in contracts at gym chains are the top consumer complaint, New Taipei City Consumer Protection Office official Wang Chih-yu (王治宇) said on Wednesday last week, adding that people should research whether establishments are trustworthy, read the fine print in contracts and think twice before signing up for a membership. City residents often choose a gym near their home, but can get cornered by the aggressive sales pitches of some establishments, especially gym chain outlets, Wang said. Some gym chains push people to buy courses or to buy time with a personal trainer, he said, adding that this tactic often results in consumer complaints once members hit a “fatigue period” in their membership. Disputes can also result from an establishment refusing to reimburse a member after their personal trainer quits the gym, he said. The Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee has instructed gyms to cut back on overselling their products and to set up suitable periods in which members can use up the hours they have purchased, he said. Gyms must clearly inform people that they cannot break the contract after the trial period, he added. If people sign up for two programs that share the same time slot, the second program should only begin after the first one has concluded, he said. Gyms are also responsible for informing people when their membership is about to expire, especially if the memberships renew automatically, he said. People should not waste their membership fees, Wang said, adding that they should set aside the time, or even force themselves to go. Wang urged people to do their homework and research their local gyms before committing themselves. Students and office workers should carefully calculate the amount of time they have to commit to gym workouts before they sign a contract, Wang added.
HOUNDED ONLINE: Two Chinese firms said they would not extend their contracts with Little S, while another terminated its agreement following an Instagram post
A high-profile Taiwanese TV host found herself the latest to draw fire from Chinese Internet users after referring to Taiwan’s Olympians as “national competitors.” Dee Hsu (徐熙娣) — better known as “Little S” — made the comment in an Instagram post on Sunday during the women’s singles badminton final between Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) of Taiwan and Chen Yufei (陳雨菲) of China. The post drew an angry reaction in China, where nationalist Internet users often police the comments of celebrities and companies for views that clash with the Chinese Communist Party’s official narrative that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of “one China.” “Hsu’s Ins” — short for Hsu’s Instagram — quickly became one of the most-searched topics on Sina Weibo on Monday, garnering more than 480 million views as of yesterday. “Just stay in Taiwan. That way you don’t need to work so hard at being two-faced,” one online commentator said. A representative for Hsu, who started out as a singer in the 1990s before becoming one of Taiwan’s most high-profile talk show hosts, could not immediately be reached for comment. The Instagram comment that drew outrage has since been deleted. Most Taiwanese celebrities are careful never to reveal their stance on Taiwan’s political status for fear of being locked out of the lucrative Chinese market or angering fans at home who identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. Hsu was unusual in celebrity circles for being outspoken in her support for former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Last year, she was highly critical of the government’s decision to ban exports of medical masks in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying they were more urgently needed “in China.” In the past few years, Hsu has spent an increasing amount of time across the Strait building her brand. Several
DOLDRUMS: An easing of restrictions did not result in a revival in business activity, as many people are worried because they are not vaccinated, Johnny Chiang said
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and representatives from its city and county council caucuses yesterday again urged the government to adopt a universal cash handout scheme as a COVID-19 relief measure, saying that it would be more effective than a proposed stimulus voucher program. Despite the lowering of a nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 2 and an easing of restrictions, business has not picked up, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told a news conference at the KMT headquarters in Taipei. That is because people are worried, as many have not received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, he said. Since the detection of a local COVID-19 outbreak in May, many restaurants and food stalls have been forced to suspend business, and some have closed permanently, Chiang said. Individual workers are also struggling, he said, adding that public opinion on a universal cash handout scheme was “clear.” Two-thirds of people want such a program, he said, citing the results of a poll released on Friday by the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation. The economic benefits of last year’s Triple Stimulus Voucher program, which allowed people to purchase NT$3,000 of vouchers for NT$1,000, were not good, Chiang said. Moreover, the distribution of the vouchers created “chaos” and increased costs, he said. People have demonstrated self-discipline in cooperating with the government’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, Chiang said. The government should not “cause trouble” for the public with its COVID-19 relief plans, he added. As of Saturday, 56,687 workers were on unpaid leave nationwide, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, citing data released on Monday by the Ministry of Labor. Many Taiwanese have been affected by the local COVID-19 outbreak and are struggling, she said. The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics recorded an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in June, which set a 10-year high, the KMT said in a statement. “Relief requires
RECENT GRADUATES: Outsourcing employees and part-time work have become commonplace amid the pandemic, while new types of jobs have been emerging
About 79 percent of Taiwanese are not optimistic about the employment prospects of recent graduates, a survey released yesterday by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-affiliated National Policy Foundation showed. In the survey, 36.5 percent of respondents said they were “very pessimistic” about the employment prospects of this year’s graduates, while 42.7 percent said they were “not very optimistic.” Another 11.7 percent of respondents were “fairly optimistic” and 1.9 percent were “very optimistic” about the employment prospects of this year’s graduates, while 7.1 percent gave no response, the survey showed. To encourage youth employment, the Ministry of Labor has launched a Youth Employment Incentive Program that would give recent graduates who have worked for three months a reward of up to NT$30,000, the foundation said. Despite the program’s benefits, the survey showed that 87.7 percent of respondents did not understand the program, the foundation said. Foundation representative Chien Jung-tsung (簡榮宗) at a news conference in Taipei questioned the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to promote and execute the program. In the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, the employment environment has become different from what people are accustomed to, he said. As employers downsize, outsourcing and part-time jobs have become common, he said. About 984,000 employees worked less than 35 hours per week in June, according to statistics released on July 22 by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. Due to the impact of the pandemic, many companies are not hiring new workers and have become conservative in their recruitment decisions, Chien said. Meanwhile, there has been an emergence of new types of work, he said, adding that amid the pandemic, e-commerce and other “zero-contact” businesses have become widespread. “The traditional labor market is different from what we imagined,” he said. In light of the circumstances, the foundation urges the government to enact legislation to protect the rights of workers in non-standard forms of
Rocket scientist Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信) has officially assumed the position of National Space Organization (NSPO) director-general, the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) said on Monday. Wu took over the official seal from former acting director-general Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政) at a ceremony at the NSPO’s headquarters in the Hsinchu Science Park, with NARL president Wu Kuang-chong (吳光鐘) overseeing the ceremony, the NARL said in a news release. Wu Jong-shinn specializes in system engineering, hybrid rocket propulsion and plasma physics, among other areas, it said. The Space Development Act (太空發展法), which was promulgated in June, provides the legal basis for the promotion of the nation’s space technology and industry, he was quoted as saying in the news release. Wu Jong-shinn expressed the hope that he would help Taiwan reinforce the foundations of space technologies and foster the growth of local space industry supply chains and space start-ups. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from National Taiwan University and his doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan in 1994. In 1995, Wu Jong-shinn returned to Taiwan to work at the National Space Program Office — the NSPO’s predecessor — and in 1998 started teaching at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU, renamed National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in February). In 2012, Wu Jong-shinn founded the Advanced Rocket Research Center at NCTU and in 2015 temporarily served as chief technology officer at GEOSAT Aerospace & Technology Inc. In 2016, he founded Taiwan Innovative Space Inc, but returned to NCTU in 2018. “Wu [Jong-shinn] will lead his country’s space R&D efforts as the nation makes a concerted effort to fully participate in the world’s space economy,” the University of Michigan said in a news release on July 21. “Wu [Jong-shinn]’s ambitious plans for NSPO include designing and manufacturing its own satellites and
The government should order employers not to use workers’ COVID-19 relief funds to pay salaries, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday, after receiving multiple complaints from workers who said they did not receive their relief funds in full. The Executive Yuan appropriated more relief funds to businesses and workers for the financial losses they incurred after the Central Epidemic Command Center raised a nationwide pandemic alert to level 3 in May. In addition to subsidies for affected businesses, each affected worker is entitled to a government subsidy of NT$40,000 — a one-time salary subsidy of NT$30,000 and NT$10,000 from the Employment Stabilization Fund. Workers’ relief funds are given to employers, who then have to distribute them to their employees. “However, we have received multiple complaints from movie theater workers that their employers listed the relief funds as their salaries from May to July on their pay slips. As such, they received only a fraction of the money allotted to them,” NPP legislative caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) told a news conference. Movie theater workers who did not receive their relief funds in full applied for full-time workers’ subsidies from the Ministry of Labor, which rejected their applications because their employers had already applied for subsidies from the Ministry of Culture, Chiu said. If the government allows such illegal practices to continue, workers would not receive the assistance they need and employers would simply disregard government regulations, he said. The Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) requires employers to pay full wages to workers themselves, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said. The relief funds are government subsidies, which have nothing to do with the wages that employers are supposed to pay their workers, Wang said, adding that employers must distribute relief funds to workers. NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the government should issue an official notification
One of Hong Kong’s best-known artists yesterday confirmed that he had moved to Taiwan in search of “100 percent freedom” from the Hong Kong government’s crackdown on dissent. Kacey Wong’s (黃國才) departure is the latest blow to Hong Kong’s reputation as a regional haven for the arts and free speech as government critics face growing scrutiny from authorities. Wong, 51, posted a black-and-white video on Facebook in which he sung a rendition of Vera Lynn’s wistful ode We’ll Meet Again. “Leaving is not easy, staying is also difficult,” he wrote. In an interview with the Hong Kong Free Press Web site, Wong confirmed that he had fled Hong Kong for political reasons, citing the diminishing space for artistic freedom since China imposed a National Security Law that criminalized much dissent. The Cornell-educated artist is known for his contemporary visual arts focusing on social activism and politics. In one 2018 performance art piece called The Patriot, Wong performed China’s national anthem on an accordion while inside a red metal cage. Last year, authorities passed new laws making it illegal to mock China’s national anthem or flag, meaning any repeat of such a performance would be fraught with risk. “I want and I demand 100 percent freedom, with no compromise,” Wong told Hong Kong Free Press. “I always appreciated Taiwan’s culture and art, I think it’s very mature and deep and the society is sophisticated and raw at the same time, which I like,” he added. Earlier this year, Wong distributed hundreds of candle stubs from previous vigils marking Beijing’s deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown after Hong Kong authorities banned public commemorations. The arts have been heavily affected by the security law, which was introduced to quash dissent after pro-democracy protests two years ago. All films must now be censored for any content that breaches the law and multiple books have been pulled
Water is discharged from the Zengwen Reservoir in Chiayi County yesterday following heavy rains across the nation over the past few days. It was the first time in nearly two years the reservoir had to discharge water.
People hold up their paddles before taking part in a paddleboard activity at the Bali Aquatics Center in New Taipei City’s Bali District yesterday. The New Taipei City Government is reopening its sports centers as the local COVID-19 situation stabilizes.
SPECIAL SERVICE: The National Police Agency should hold more counterterrorism drills to make better use of the costly facility, the National Audit Office said
In the nearly four years since its creation, the National Police Agency’s (NPA) Counterterrorism Center has only been used for 38 days for counterterrorism training exercises, the National Audit Office said in a budget report on Thursday last week, calling on the agency to increase usage of the costly facility. The NT$550 million (US$19.69 million) center in Taoyuan’s Sinwu District (新屋) — intended for use in simulating terror-related scenarios to train police and national security forces — opened in March 2017 after years of setbacks. Its facilities include training grounds for urban combat, climbing and rappelling, hostage rescue and antiterrorism combat, as well as a multipurpose building, dormitory and cafeteria. Although the Ministry of the Interior approved the project in 2003, the groundbreaking ceremony was not held for another eight years. Scheduled for completion in 2014, revisions and difficulty in finding contractors delayed the start of construction another four years until 2015. However, the center has been underutilized in its first 960 days of operation from March 21, 2017, to Nov. 30 last year, the office said in its report for this past fiscal year. During this period the center was only used 38 days for counterterrorism drills, or 3.96 percent of the time, the report said. Only four joint antiterrorism exercises were held during the period: one each in 2017 and 2018, and two in 2019 for a total of four days, it added. The Military Police Special Services, Coast Guard Investigation Branch and other special forces held seven drills between them, one each in 2017, 2019 and last year, and four in 2018, it said. These seven exercises lasted a total of 34 days, training 844 officers, it showed. By facility, the dormitory and antiterrorism combat training ground were used five times each, the hostage rescue facility was used four times, and the climbing and urban combat facilities
Although the National Human Rights Commission has been in existence for one year, it has not used even half of its budget, and laws governing the enforcement of its authority are not completely in place, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday. The party made the comments as the commission, a unit of the Control Yuan, celebrated the first anniversary of its establishment. Article 2 of the Organic Act of the National Human Rights Commission (監察院國家人權委員會組織法) lists the functions and powers of the commission, including “investigating incidents involving torture, human rights violations or various forms of discrimination in accordance with its authority or in response to petition from the general public, and provide a remedy according to the law.” However, a report submitted by the commission earlier this month showed that it had only used 46 percent of its budget, most of which was spent on hosting human rights seminars and funding studies, NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said. The Control Yuan should quickly submit again a draft law governing the exercise of the commission’s power, which it retracted during last year’s legislative session, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said. Control Yuan President Chen Chu (陳菊) has said that the commission’s two core tasks are to safeguard human rights in Taiwan and promote human rights education, but so far it had mainly focused on education, she said. “While we do not belittle the importance of reinforcing human rights education in the country, we want to remind the commission that it should perform all the tasks it is authorized to do,” Wang said. A number of legislators have proposed amendments to the Constitution that are related to human rights protection, and the organic act has allowed the commission to make policy suggestions based on its understanding of international and domestic human rights issues, she added. NPP caucus whip
LIVE-FIRE: The exercises would include for the first time fighter jets taking off and landing on the Jiadong section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County
The postponed live-fire component of this year’s Han Kuang military exercises is scheduled to take place in September and is to feature fighter jets conducting emergency takeoffs and landings on public highways, a military source said yesterday. The Han Kuang exercises, the nation’s major war games, have been held annually since 1984 in the form of live-fire drills and computerized war games to test the nation’s combat readiness in the event of a Chinese invasion. This year’s tabletop drills were held from April 23 to 30. The live-fire exercises were scheduled to start on July 12 and run for five days. However, due to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that started in the middle of May, the military in June decided to postpone the live-fire part of the drill. A military source yesterday said that the Ministry of National Defense has set the provisional date for the live-fire drills from Sept. 13 to 17. The scale of the drills, whether they would be open to the media and the focus of the exercises is to be decided at a later date, depending on the pandemic situation at that time, the source added. One element that would go ahead is a series of emergency takeoffs and landings of fighter jets on the Jiadong section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County, the source said. It would be the first time such a drill would be conducted on the Jiadong section, one of five sections built in Taiwan to accommodate emergency military jet landings and takeoffs in the event of a war. The drill would simulate a scenario in which Taiwan’s military and civilian airports and airstrips are seriously damaged by enemy fire, and jets have to land on the highway. The other emergency landing strips are on Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway
Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday announced his bid for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairperson, a position he held from 2015 to 2016. Chu made the announcement via a post on Facebook under the title “Change brings hope, regaining leadership brings about change.” “Given the plight facing the KMT, as a member of the party, I feel duty-bound [to help] and officially announce that I will join the race for KMT chairperson,” he wrote. If elected, Chu promised to form a work panel to prepare for next year’s local elections and to select the strongest candidate to represent the party in the 2024 presidential race to help the KMT return to power. “In face of the Democratic Progressive Party’s chaotic governance,” he said he would integrate and present the achievements of the 14 local governments ruled by the KMT to demonstrate the party’s governing capacity. Chu is expected to pose the greatest challenge to KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang’s (江啟臣) re-election bid. The KMT chairperson election was originally scheduled for July 24, but was postponed to Sept. 25 due to a local COVID-19 outbreak. Aside from Chiang and Chu, three other KMT members have expressed their intention to join the race — Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), president of the non-governmental organization the Sun Yat-sen School; Wei Po-tao (韋伯韜), former head of the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics; and former Changhua County commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源). Local media reports said former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and Sean Lien (連勝文), son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), are also interested in running for KMT chairperson.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Sunday said it would celebrate “Fulbright Taiwan Day” in November as part of the 75th anniversary of the international Fulbright Program. Throughout this year, all Fulbright partners and supporters worldwide are celebrating the anniversary with a range of activities, the AIT said in a statement. “In conjunction with the International Education Week, AIT will celebrate the Fulbright Taiwan Day on Nov. 15,” it said. The program for the Fulbright Taiwan Day celebrations has not yet been publicized by the AIT. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 as the US government’s flagship international education and cultural exchange program, in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide, the AIT said. The Fulbright Taiwan Program was set up in 1957 and is administered by the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, which comprises 10 US and Taiwanese board members, it said. Over the past six decades, Fulbright has sent more than 2,000 Taiwanese awardees to the US and brought more than 2,000 Americans to Taiwan, the AIT said. In Taiwan, Fulbright alumni include former vice premier and minister of finance Paul Chiu (邱正雄), former premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) and National Performing Arts Center director Ju Tzong-ching (朱宗慶), it said. Internationally, Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners and 39 government leaders, it added.
NEW NUMBERS: No deaths were reported yesterday, but there were 12 local cases and two imported cases — people who had returned from Thailand and the US
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that COVID-19 restrictions are expected to remain in place after Monday next week, as it reported 12 local infections and two imported cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 12 local cases are 10 men and two women aged 10 to 80 who began experiencing symptoms between Thursday and Saturday. Six tested positive during isolation or upon ending it, he said, adding that the sources of infection have been identified in nine cases, while three remain unclear and would be investigated. Taoyuan reported five cases, all family members of a previous case, while New Taipei City had three, Taipei two, and Keelung and Kaohsiung one each. Separately, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said at an expanded COVID-19 prevention meeting yesterday that while the CECC continues monitoring the COVID-19 situation, the Executive Yuan would collect information from its ministries and discuss whether restrictions could be further loosened after Monday next week. Su made the remarks in reference to CECC’s announcement on July 23 that it a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert would be lowered to level 2, and that level 2 restrictions would remain in place until Monday next week. Asked whether the CECC might ease COVID-19 restrictions next week, Chen said the daily number of local infections has dropped and there were fewer than 10 locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources reported daily over the past 20 days. However, the COVID-19 situation in the past week cannot be said to be linked to the level 2 restrictions, he said, adding that the effect of easing some restrictions is expected to be revealed this week or next week. “The COVID-19 alert will certainly remain at level 2” after Monday next week, he said. “Easing restrictions is a difficult task,” he said, adding that
Despite the easing of restrictions after the nationwide COVID-19 alert was lowered to level 2, the public should remain vigilant and ensure good indoor airflow to prevent another outbreak, a hospital director said on Sunday. More variants would continue to emerge and vaccinated people might also become infected, but should not have serious symptoms, National Taiwan University Children’s Hospital superintendent Huang Li-min (黃立民) said. “We must remain vigilant in the coming months. Anyone failing to follow disease prevention regulations or to stay in quarantine after testing posting for COVID-19 could cause a community outbreak,” he said. It is imperative that people continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing, even after getting vaccinated, he said. “It is best to avoid eating together with groups of people unless everyone in the group has been vaccinated,” he said. As SARS-CoV-2 can spread through the air, maintaining good indoor airflow is imperative, National Taiwan University College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said. “This is especially important in spaces where people eat. You should open windows even if you have the air-conditioner on,” he said. “When there is natural airflow, indoor air will be replaced by outdoor air in just 60 seconds.” Surfaces including door handles, tables, windows, keyboards and cellphones should also be wiped clean regularly, with an alcohol solution if possible, he said. “Since the government has decided not to wait for domestic cases to reach zero before lifting restrictions, there is still a chance that people could become infected in places where there are large gatherings,” Chan said. Infectious disease specialist Lee Yuan-chang (李垣樟) said that a recent outbreak among factory workers in Chiayi County showed that the public must remain vigilant everywhere, including in places where there have never been community transmissions in the past. In other news, the New Taipei City