Philippines

Not a god: Taiwan defends health minister amid uptick in COVID-19 cases

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung holds a news conference about Taiwan’s efforts to get into the World Health Organization in Taipei, Taiwan, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI — Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang defended the island’s health minister on Tuesday amid a rare uptick in domestic COVID-19 infections, saying that even if he were a god reborn on earth he could not protect against every eventuality.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control because of early and effective prevention, including largely closing its borders. Most of its 1,145 cases to date have been imported from abroad, although Taiwan has reported sporadic domestic infections. Since last month Taiwan has been dealing with a cluster of 26 infections so far linked to a hotel at the island’s main international airport at Taoyuan outside of Taipei, with pilots, hotel workers and their family members affected.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung has come under criticism, including from the main opposition party the Kuomintang, over a series of issues that could have worsened the outbreak, including not wearing face masks and allowing Taiwanese and foreign pilots to mix at a single hotel.

Su told reporters that despite strict government steps, including recording names of people entering public venues to help with contact tracing, not everyone adhered to the rules and it was impossible to be everywhere at once to ensure regulations are followed.

“A single Chen Shih-chung, even if he were a god reborn, would not be able to do it, and there is no way to see if every place has no breaches” in the rules, Su added.

The government is looking at which procedures can be tightened, Su said, pointing to Monday’s decision to ban people entering who had been in badly-affected India.

Taiwan’s total case numbers remain extremely small compared with those in many other countries, with only 75 people being treated in hospital. It has reported 12 deaths.

Taiwan stocks have swooned since the start of the week, partly on concerns about the domestic cases, dropping more than 3% on Tuesday morning.

The hotel at the centre of the outbreak was evacuated last week and is undergoing a deep clean while those staying there were moved to centralized quarantine centers for tests.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

Read Next

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Football news:

Griezmann spoke with Hamilton and visited the Mercedes boxes at the Spanish Grand Prix
Barcelona feels that Neymar used it. He said that he wanted to return, but extended his contract with PSG (RAC1)
Aubameyang to the Arsenal fans: We wanted to give you something good. I am sorry that we could not
Atletico did not lose at the Camp Nou. Busquets' injury is the turning point of the match (and the championship race?)
Verratti injured his knee ligaments in PSG training. Participation in the Euro is still in question
Neymar's contract in one picture. Mbappe wants the same one
Manchester United would like to sign Bellingham in the summer, not Sancho. Borussia do not intend to sell Jude