The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday blamed Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) for an outbreak of dengue fever in the city, while Tainan City Council Speaker Lee Chuan-chiao (李全教) railed against Lai for boycotting city council sessions, attributing the outbreak to his absence.
More than 1,000 cases of dengue fever, two of which have been fatal, have been reported so far in Tainan.
Two KMT Tainan city councilors showed up at a news conference held by the KMT caucus in Taipei to accuse Lai of neglecting the health of the city’s residents.
KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said Lai, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, has been preoccupied with a dispute with the Control Yuan while 23 of the city’s 37 districts have reported cases of dengue.
“The fact that Tainan is in the middle of an outbreak shows that Lai, who is also a physician, has not been attentive [to municipal affairs],” she said.
KMT Legislator Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) urged the central government to hold Lai accountable for his boycott of city council meetings, which has resulted in city officials breaking the law and disease-prevention work going unfinished.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who was invited by the caucus to participate in the news conference, said the outbreak intensified after high temperatures and heavy rain in May and June, and that most of the city’s residents lack immunity to the strain of dengue that has been prevalent this year.
Chuang said the agency has sent teams to help the city government with preventive measures.
Meanwhile in Tainan, Lee accused Lai of tainting the city’s reputation and hurting its tourism industry with his boycott of city council meetings, which he said could have facilitated cooperation between the city government and the council on a budget increase for disease prevention.
Lai yesterday said that the dengue outbreak this year has been serious, adding that this strain of the disease has not been observed in the city in more than a decade.
Lai said the city government has not been sufficiently vigilant, as last year Tainan had only 200 cases, while neighboring Kaohsiung had more than 10,000. However, he said city authorities were undertaking necessary action, including handing out penalties to people found with exposed containers of water, which mosquitoes can use to breed.
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