The coronavirus that causes SARS has existed in wild birds for hundreds of years but has lately made the leap to humans by chance, a noted US-based virologist said in Taipei yesterday. Dr. Michael Lai (賴明詔), a Taiwan-born professor at the University of Southern California who heads a World Health Organization (WHO) coronavirus research team, said the coronavirus also exists in certain other animals, including cattle, pigs, chickens and rats. \nBut genetic sequencing shows that the coronavirus that causes SARS is more like the version that originates in wild birds, Lai said. \nAs to how the SARS virus made the leap to humans, Lai said it may have been the result of people in Guangdong Province eating raw or half-cooked coronavirus-infected bird meat. Guangdong is where the first cases of SARS in humans were reported. \nLai, who arrived in Taipei on Thursday to assist in the campaign against the disease, said there have been drugs to treat coronavirus-infected animals. \nThis is good news for efforts to develop vaccines and cures for SARS-infected humans, Lai said. But he acknowledged that many uncertainties and difficulties still stand in the way. \n"We still don't understand a lot about the virus' behavior in the human body, and it will take time to unravel the mystery, " Lai said, adding that it may take at least four or five years to develop a vaccine or an effective cure for SARS. \nNoting that SARS-virus research requires sophisticated instruments and equipment, Lai said Taiwan should establish a top-grade laboratory. \nLai, 61, has dedicated himself to coronavirus research for some 30 years. Nearly all the textbooks on coronavirus used by US medical college students have been written by Lai. \nHe is scheduled to assume the post of vice president of Academia Sinica in July. \nMeanwhile Taipei City reported 14 new cases of SARS on Saturday, but none of them were related to Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday. \nThis marked the first time that no new Hoping-related SARS case was reported in a day since the hospital was sealed off April 24 due to a mass transmission of the disease inside the facility, Ma said. A total of 219 Hoping-related SARS cases have so far been reported. \nMa also said he has taken a bit of comfort in the drop in the new SARS caseload in the city, which fell from 37 on Friday to 14 on Saturday. Taipei has accounted for 69 percent of the nation's total reported SARS cases, but Ma said many of the reported cases are still pending tests to determine whether they are SARS infections.
Netflix on Wednesday said it is to charge NT$100 more per month for each user that is not part of the same household. Under the plan, the streaming service is to limit viewership to people who live in the same household. If a member wishes to add people outside of their address, they must pay NT$100 more per person every month. No additional viewers can be added to the NT$270 per month “basic” account. “Standard” accounts (NT$330) can add one user, while “premium” (NT$390) accounts can add two users. The company has said that people in the same household would still be able
PRESSURE POINT: Beijing might seek to lean on Musk to prevent his SpaceX from providing Taiwan access to its Starlink satellite system, ‘The Economist’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) called out Elon Musk on Twitter, saying the value of democracy transcends that of money after the Tesla CEO said that China was likely to “integrate” Taiwan. Asked in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday last week if “China would make a move to take control of Taiwan,” Musk said that “the official policy of China is that Taiwan should be integrated... One does not need to read between the lines.” “There is a certain inevitability to the situation,” he added. “That is their policy, and I think you should take their word seriously,” Musk said. Regarding
VIGILANCE: The mask mandate would remain in effect at healthcare facilities, healthcare-related institutes and senior welfare facilities due to high infection risks there The mask mandate would be extended next month for three types of venues, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday as it reported that the average daily number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases increased by more than 30 percent last week. Local COVID-19 cases last week rose to an average of 204 daily hospitalizations, an increase of 32.5 percent from the previous week, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said. The number of prescriptions for oral anti-viral drugs to treat COVID-19 also increased to 23,503 courses — 17,424 courses of Paxlovid and 6,079 courses of molnupiravir. The average positivity rate
GROWING FAST: China continues to outpace the US in its production and commissioning of ships, as it seeks to expand ‘far seas operations,’ an ex-US Navy captain said China continued to increase its naval capacity last year, indicating that it is seeking to bolster its ability to invade Taiwan, a retired US Navy captain said. In an article published in this month’s issue of the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, retired US Navy Captain James Fanell wrote that China commissioned 10 warships and one submarine last year, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was continuing to commission the most annual tonnage globally, as it has done for at least the past five years. The PLAN is also outproducing the US Navy in total number of ships, tonnage and