The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would set guidelines for other agencies about disclosing information concerning confirmed cases, after some schools expressed confusion regarding interagency communication.
Academia Sinica, National Chengchi University and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) have issued announcements to clarify their quarantine measures for confirmed cases.
Asked if the center provides guidelines about information disclosure, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesman, on Friday advised institutions to check with the CECC before revealing any information beyond what it has announced, citing its smooth collaboration with Academia Sinica as a good example.
Photo copied by Liu Pin-chuan, Taipei Times
After confirming an infection on its campus in an open letter on Friday last week, Academia Sinica the next day revealed the department the case was affiliated with and their activity “footprints.”
After the CECC reported three more cases at Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University (NTU) on Monday asked all faculty members who had visited Academia Sinica in the two weeks before to conduct self-health management and not to enter campus.
The CECC remained in contact with Academia Sinica during the process and welcomed its strategy of sharing footprints, but added that it disapproved of “the so-called pre-emptive action” of some schools, Chuang said.
There can be a lapse between a school’s disease prevention actions and the CECC’s daily case announcement, an NTHU administrative officer said on Friday.
When NTHU on Tuesday told nearly 900 students via text message that 20 classes were changed to online courses as 26 students had been quarantined because they were in contact with a confirmed case, the CECC had not yet announced the case, the officer said.
After texting students, the school called 1922 — the CECC’s information hotline — to ask for guidelines as to what to do next, but the CECC asked it to consult the Hsinchu Public Health Bureau, they said.
The bureau said that the school should not delay disease prevention efforts, no matter whether their case is announced by the CECC, the officer said.
However, the school’s messages to students were unwittingly spread by the National Chiao Tung University Student Association on Facebook, prompting NTHU to issue an open letter about the situation, they said.
Later that day, the CECC announced the case in an impromptu notice, a move seemingly prompted by NTHU’s open letter.
The center expressed dissatisfaction regarding NTHU’s actions, but the school was very confused about how to inform students without divulging information, the administrative officer said.
Assuming that Chuang’s remarks were aimed at itself, NTU said in a statement that it took stronger action because Academia Sinica initially cited the CDC’s instructions and denied its request for footprint information.
The number of NTU faculty members who visited Academia Sinica’s campus in the two weeks totaled 732, showing how close bilateral exchanges are, it said.
NTU said it was upset about criticism it had received over its disease prevention measures, as those criticizing it did not realize the measures’ importance.
The NTU Student Association yesterday on Facebook accused school management of using the disease as a pretext to centralize power, saying that their disease prevention strategies are only propaganda and student representatives are blocked from attending their meetings.
Meanwhile, Academia Sinica yesterday thanked the Ministry of Health and Welfare for its help, saying that it respects the measures taken by different universities, while calling for rationality and trust, as well as for schools to work together in fighting the virus.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, yesterday said that announcing confirmed cases is the center’s job, but it respects entities for disclosing detailed information if they do not divulge personal information.
To avoid interagency confusion, the center would draft guidelines about information disclosure, he said, urging agencies to cooperate, instead of confronting each other.
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