The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday revoked an order by the Kinmen County Government demanding that all visitors arriving by plane had to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 within three days of their flight, or take a rapid antigen test upon arrival at the airport.
The center issued a news release at midnight yesterday, stating that it had revoked a proclamation issued by the Kinmen County Government on Sunday ordering “all aircraft passengers arriving at Kinmen to cooperate with its contact information registration and take a rapid COVID-19 test, starting from May 24.”
The CECC said the proclamation had breached the third item of Article 37 of the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), and that the Kinmen government did not file a written application in advance.
Photo courtesy of the Central Epidemic Command Center
It added that Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, had called Kinmen County Commissioner Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) on Sunday evening to inform him that the order would be revoked because it was not legally authorized.
Yang yesterday morning wrote on Facebook that the county government had twice last week sent an official document to the CECC, suggesting that it set up rapid testing stations at airports with domestic flights to Kinmen or allow a station to be set up at Kinmen Airport, but received no response.
He said the proclamation was issued because Kinmen residents are concerned that COVID-19 would spread to the island, but as it has been revoked, the county government would suggest that arriving visitors receive an optional rapid antigen test.
Chen yesterday said that the CECC had received the documents, but had replied that the policy would be “unfavorable,” as it would create a division between Kinmen and the rest of Taiwan, which would harm the principle of having consistent rules across the nation.
Separately, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is a deputy head of the center, yesterday rejected online rumors about COVID-19, including claims that “20,000 people have gone missing in Taipei and New Taipei City,” “hospitals are dumping bodies of COVID-19 victims into rivers” and “leaked chat logs among physicians show that statistics are being fabricated.”
The false stories about “Taipei and New Taipei City becoming haunted cities, with 20,000 people missing, and black smoke being seen above Taipei’s Second Funeral Parlor, as it is allegedly burning bodies of Wanhua District (萬華) pneumonia patients” was spread through a Twitter account that was posing as the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), he said.
Chen said that the three false rumors are being spread by accounts registered under foreign IP addresses, and people should stop spreading them to avoid breaking the law.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) asked the judiciary to investigate a massive disinformation campaign targeting one of the CECC’s news and information platforms.
Just after 10am yesterday, messages aimed at undermining the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) official Line account began flooding Professional Technology Temple’s Gossip Board and other popular chat sites, accusing the CDC of covering up the nation’s actual COVID-19 figures, Wang said.
The messages told people not to trust the CDC’s Line account, saying they should delete it.
Wang said that it was obviously a well-coordinated “cognitive warfare” campaign by China.
Its aims are to mislead the public, create confusion and sow distrust, Wang said.
“Cognitive warfare has a severe effect on Taiwan’s national security,” Wang said, calling for prosecutions to be made using the National Security Act (國家安全法), which in serious cases could see perpetrators serve more than seven years in prison and be fined a maximum of NT$100 million (US$3.58 million).
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