People who are caught littering used masks face a fine of up to NT$6,000, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday, as more masks are being found on beaches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beach cleaning volunteers said they have found an increasing number of masks for adults and children in a variety of colors, Society of Wilderness chairwoman Liu Yueh-mei (劉月梅) said, calling on the government to increase public education and implement regulations about garbage disposal.
Mask littering pollutes the environment and threatens public health, as masks with nonwoven fabrics cannot naturally decompose, while used masks might carry the virus, Greenpeace Taiwan campaigner Chang Kai-ting (張凱婷) said.
Photo: Lo Chi, Taipei Times
As human-to-human transmission remains the primary method of infection for COVID-19, garbage bins that contain disposed masks in urban areas are more likely to become a vector of transmission than those at less populated seaside areas, National Taiwan University College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said.
Masks with fabrics that do not decompose are classified as general waste, and people caught littering face a fine of between NT$1,200 and NT$6,000 under the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法), EPA Department of Waste Management Director-General Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩) said.
The EPA would ask local authorities to increase patrolling and cleaning in areas in which littered masks are more likely to be found and post more notices, she added.
In related news, a woman buying masks at a pharmacy in Taipei on Friday demanded that a pharmacist kneel and apologize after they handed her the wrong National Health Insurance card, sparking criticism.
Although the pharmacist said that she had asked the customer to check her card before leaving, she still knelt and apologized when the customer returned to fetch the correct card.
In a statement yesterday, the Taiwan Pharmacist Association denounced the request.
Most people are patient when lining up to buy masks, but a few have treated pharmacists disrespectfully, such as the demand that the pharmacist kowtow in apology, which has severely humiliated the pharmacist and affected the morale of all other pharmacists working hard to protect public health, it said.
The association would provide pharmacists who experience similar treatment with legal counseling resources, it said, calling on people to respect medical professionals during the pandemic.
Additional reporting by Lin Hui-chin
WAR FUNDING: A report by UK and Ukrainian defense analysts said that Taiwanese exports of a compound used in gunpowder have been helping Russia propagate its war About 20 percent of nitrocellulose — a compound used in gunpowder — imported into Russia has been sourced from Taiwan, a joint British-Ukrainian investigative report showed. Nitrocellulose is a key component of smokeless gunpowder, and the EU has banned export of the compound to Russia due to its ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. The report said that nitrocellulose produced in Taiwan makes its way to Russia by passing through other countries such as Turkey. Only one company, T.N.C. Industrial Co (台硝), was named in the report, which also named China and Germany as key sources of the compound for
A Singaporean social media streamer who goes by the pseudonym Kiaraakitty faked an egg attack by an alleged passerby during a livestream in Kaohsiung on Feb. 9, the city’s police department said on Saturday. The department was responding to the streamer’s claim earlier this month that a stranger had thrown eggs at her during a recent visit to Kaohsiung. Kiaraakitty is known for posting provocative content on livestreaming sites such as Twitch and Discord, as well as other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. She also posts on paid adult content Web site OnlyFans. In the video dated Feb. 9,
ROAD SINKING: The road surface of Qingcheng Street near the intersection with Xingan Street in Taipei’s Songshan District collapsed on Friday at about 9pm Grouting was yesterday used to repair a section of road in Taipei, after work on a construction site caused the surface to partially collapse on Friday evening, the Taipei Construction Management Office said yesterday, adding that nearby buildings were not affected. The road surface of Qingcheng Street near the intersection with Xingan Street in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) collapsed at about 9pm on Friday. When police arrived they found four cars parked by the roadside tilting to one side. Police estimated the area that had subsided was about 4m by 30m, and was about 1.5m deep. They cordoned off the surrounding area
HOT TOPIC: The Taiwan-born founder of a restaurant in the Japanese city is generally credited with creating the super spicy dish, which was originally intended as a staff meal For Taiwanese, ramen is one of the dishes that most represents Japan; for Japanese, its origins are in China. Then there is “Taiwan ramen,” which can only be found in Japan, but not in Taiwan. It is almost impossible to reach a consensus on the origin of any dish, but a brief look at its history might be helpful. Not many people who are not Japanese question whether ramen is really Japanese. Yet think about it — ramen is often unctuous and rich, unlike most other must-try Japanese foods familiar to foreign visitors to the country, such as sushi and soba noodles. According