China Airlines (CAL) and Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel should bear most of the responsibility for the COVID-19 outbreak that prompted a nationwide alert, as they contravened quarantine regulations, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday.
The airline failed to properly implement the “3+11” policy, which called for three days of isolation and 11 days of self-health management for pilots and flight crew, DPP caucus secretary-general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) told a briefing at the legislature in Taipei.
“Other airline companies in Taiwan also faced the same quarantine and prevention measures, but did not have problems,” Lo said.
The quarantine rules were based on “rolling corrections,” leaving room to adjust as the situation changed, he said.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) had earlier imposed a “5+9” policy — five days of isolation and nine days of self-health management, along with testing for COVID-19, Lo said.
Airlines asked for a less-strict “3+11” policy, which led to breaches of the rules and the outbreak of infections, he said.
The CECC’s plan was for the new “3+11” to become a strengthened quarantine policy, compared with last year, Lo said, adding that it was the same for all other Taiwanese airlines.
CAL and Novotel, where pilots spent their isolation periods, bear a greater portion of the responsibility for cluster infections that preceded the nationwide outbreak, Lo said.
“CAL and Novotel had lots of problems executing the 3+11 policy,” Lo said.
“They created loopholes in the rules, which policy experts will have to assess. The lapses created problems for air flight safety, pandemic mitigation and other issues,” he added.
Separately, Control Yuan members Su Li-chiung (蘇麗瓊) and Pasuya Poiconu said in a press release that there might be a probe into the “3+11” policy.
“The CECC loosened COVID-19 quarantine measures for pilots and flight crew of Taiwan’s airline companies,” the release said. “It seems that the decisionmaking process did not fully consider every aspect of the situation, so a probe is to be conducted into the process.”
The DPP respects the authority of the Control Yuan to conduct such an investigation, Lo said.
“People in Taiwan questioned the 3+11 policy,” former New Power Party chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said in a public message.
“Finally, today, the Control Yuan has announced that it is to investigate the matter,” he added.
“We agree with this move so that the truth of what happened will be known,” Huang said. “Moreover, DPP caucus members have pointed out CAL’s and Novotel’s greater legal responsibility.”
“The repercussions of the companies’ actions has caused tremendous harm to society. I want to ask CAL chairman Hsieh Shih-chien (謝世謙) how much of the responsibility he has accepted,” he said.
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