The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported one domestic and seven imported cases of COVID-19, involving people arriving from the Philippines, Indonesia, the US, South Africa and Russia. At an impromptu press conference at 10pm, the CECC said in its testing of another 452 workers at a hospital in northern Taiwan where two domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases involving a doctor and a nurse were reported earlier this week, one tested positive. Two cases are workers from the Philippines in their 20s who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 24 last year and presented negative test reports taken within three days of boarding their flight to Taiwan, the CECC said. They were tested on Wednesday last week before the end of their mandatory quarantine, and the results returned negative, the center said. However, they were tested again on Thursday during their mandatory self-health management periods, and the results returned positive, it said. Another COVID-19 case imported from the Philippines is a man in his 40s who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 30 to work on a fishing boat, the center said. He was tested on Thursday during his quarantine, and the result returned positive yesterday, it said. A Russian man in his 50s, who arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday last week for work was tested on Wednesday, and the result returned positive yesterday, the CECC said. The man had presented a negative test report upon arrival, but developed an abnormal sense of smell during his quarantine at a hotel, where he was given a test, the CECC said. An Indonesian worker in his 20s who arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 27 also presented a negative test report upon arrival and was tested on Monday after his mandatory quarantine, the center said. His result, which returned on Wednesday, was inconclusive, it said. He was tested again on Thursday, and the
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is planning to initiate a public-private partnership to develop antibody treatments against COVID-19, the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) said on Friday. Antibody treatments, to be administered to people infected with COVID-19 and healthy individuals to provide short-term immunity, are a vital stopgap treatment until vaccines become widely available, NHRI vice president Sytwu Huey-kang (司徒惠康) said. The institute, Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University Hospital and Chang Gung Medical Foundation last year began developing COVID-19 antibody treatments, but their efforts have largely been uncoordinated, Sytwu said. To expedite the process, the CECC’s research division is planning to set up a platform to increase cooperation between the institutions, and promote the development of antibody treatments by local drug manufacturers, he said. The treatments are based on the injection of antibodies that attach themselves to a specific virus, which prevents the virus from attacking cells, Sytwu said, adding that the treatment aims to limit the progression of an infection. Many antibody treatments, such as the drug administered to US President Donald Trump last year, use a cocktail of multiple antibodies that target different parts of a virus, increasing their overall efficacy, he said. Because antibody treatments can provide up to two months of immunity to a certain virus, they could also be administered to healthy people who are at risk of infection, for example those who need to travel abroad, before a COVID-19 vaccination is widely available, Sytwu said. The treatments are also extremely safe and could be combined with a vaccination to offer better protection to people with a history of allergic reactions to vaccinations, he said.
Liu Yao-tzu (劉耀祖), one of three Taiwanese to be honored with Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun last year, was yesterday presented with the medal by Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Kaohsiung office director Eji Kato. Yesterday was also the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Dr Ikegami Ichiro Memorial Library which Liu manages. The library in Pingtung County’s Jhutian Township (竹田) opened its doors on Jan. 16, 2001, the 90th birthday of Ikegami, who from 1943 to 1945 served as director of a Japanese military hospital in the township. It currently holds a collection of nearly 20,000 books, mostly in Japanese. Aside from establishing and managing the library, the 90 year-old Liu also organizes many events to promote cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Japan. Not only has he donated his lifetime collection of Japanese books to the library, Liu has also established close ties with universities and high schools in Pingtung, and provides materials and space for exhibitions. Liu’s contributions to the promotion of the Japanese language in Taiwan has had a lasting influence, the Pintung government said. Eji said that the library and Liu’s dedication to exchanges between the nations has contributed to their close ties and the knowledge of Japan in Taiwan. The Order of the Rising Sun is given to foreigners who have demonstrated dedication to promoting and fostering ties with Japan, the foundation said. Among the 141 people who were in November last year announced as recipients, three are Taiwanese, it added. The order honors the past, present and future, Liu said, adding that it was a great honor to receive it on behalf of all those who have made the memorial library possible.
Residents in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) yesterday voted to recall Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇). Taoyuan City Election Commission data showed that 84,582 people voted in favor of the recall, while 7,128 voted against it. Voter turnout was 28 percent, it showed. The votes of at least 25 percent of eligible voters — 81,940 people — and the largest share of votes in favor of a recall are required for a recall motion to pass, according to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法). Wang, 32, was first elected as city councilor in 2014, with the second-highest votes among all candidates for Jhongli. He at the time represented the Green Party Taiwan. He was in 2018 re-elected with the third-highest number of votes. In January last year, he left the Green Party and a month later joined the DPP. Hope Media executive officer Tang Ping-jung (唐平榮), a Jhongli resident who proposed the recall campaign said that Wang did not work for the benefit of his constituency. The campaign was supported by local Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) members. Wang pushed his own opinions on public issues, instead of listening to those who he was elected to represent, Tang said after the vote, celebrating with KMT and TPP members at the headquarters of the campaign. It is the first time that a city councilor in one of Taiwan’s six special municipalities is recalled, he said. DPP spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said that despite the vote being a local issue, “the KMT threw its whole weight behind it.” “The campaign was aimed to sow division among Taiwanese. This does not bode well for the nation’s democracy, and most people did not like to see this,” she said. The KMT in a statement congratulated the “people of Jhongli for sending a strong signal.” “It was
EXPERIMENTAL YIELD: The ingredients for a festive meal came from a local farming project where environmental innovations are tested
Representatives of Taiwan and the Vatican on Friday celebrated the first harvest from a new indoor farming facility, which the two sides said would showcase the role of technology in developing more sustainable agriculture. Ambassador to the Holy See Matthew Lee (李世明) toured the farm on the grounds of the Opera Nazionale Per Le Citta’ Dei Ragazzi, Italian for “City of Youth,” a Catholic foundation that provides educational opportunities and career training to young immigrants and refugees. The foundation, which is located on a 60-hectare complex in southwestern Rome, has over the past few years served as a testing ground for many of the Vatican’s environmental initiatives. The project was inspired by Pope Francis’ second encyclical letter, Laudato Si, in which he calls for a decisive global response to the threats of environmental damage and climate change, Lee said. In the spirit of the pontiff’s appeal, Taiwan leveraged its strengths in precision agriculture technologies, and sent a team of agronomists and engineers to help the foundation launch the farm in only three months, Lee said. “We hope this facility will serve as an example to promote the concept of smart agriculture more broadly in Italy,” he said. Foundation chairman Vincenzo Cappannini said that Taiwan’s commitment to the project was particularly meaningful given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the obstacles it has created for international exchanges. Lin Chun-hui (林峻輝), an agriculture expert from Taoyuan’s YesHealth iFarm who helped design the farm, said that in spite of the difficulties — such as mandatory quarantines and the language barrier — the project was worth the effort. To celebrate its first harvest, the foundation invited Taiwanese representatives and volunteers at the project to an Italian meal prepared with herbs and vegetables grown on the farm. YesHealth is a leader in vertical farming, a method of
CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS: Taiwan Men’s Association social worker Liu Hsin-wei said many men grew up thinking that society expects them to face problems alone
While male survivors of sexual assault have become more willing to go public, many have difficulty asking for help or speaking out about their experiences, Taiwan Men’s Association social worker Liu Hsin-wei (劉信緯) said. Many men were brought up to think that society expects them to face their problems independently, Liu said, adding that “many sexual assault survivors are only willing to talk about their experience after many years have passed.” There were 7,581 reports of sexual assault from January to October last year, up 16.28 percent from 2019, Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed. Of those assaults, 1,462 involved male survivors, up nearly 30 percent from 2019 — an historic high for that period, the data showed. Of the male survivors, 52 were boys aged six or younger, up 73 percent from 2019, the data showed. People’s misconceptions about sexual assault often bring more pain to survivors, such as the common misconception that men who experience an erection or ejaculation during an assault must have “wanted or enjoyed the assault,” said Liu, who has worked with 20 male survivors of sexual assault. Many people equate a survivor’s physiological response with his willingness to engage sexually, causing survivors to feel a sense of blame or shame for not being strong enough to stop an assault, he said. Even when male survivors attempt to speak out about an assault, people might question their masculinity or their manhood, which can cause survivors to further doubt themselves, Liu added. Other misconceptions include that sexual assault only occurs to men or boys who are attracted to the same sex or gender, or that a survivor’s sexual orientation can be changed by being assaulted, he said. Liu said that he has worked with men who were sexually assaulted by a woman in a position of power or authority, so sexual orientation is not
SHOCK TO SYSTEM: The Health Promotion Administration said people should not spend more than 15 minutes in hot water, as it could trigger a heart attack or stroke
The public should be cautious when visiting hot springs or taking hot baths in chilly weather, the Health Promotion Administration said on Friday. Administration officials said that hot springs are more popular during cold weather, while adding that care must be taken. People at hot springs should not spend more than 15 minutes in the water and should rise slowly, as blood vessels in hot water expand, causing a drop in blood pressure, which could cause them to faint if they climb out of the water too quickly, the officials said. People should frequently hydrate before and after they spend time in hot springs, they added. Those with diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidemia should be especially careful about the temperature of the water, they said. People should not go in water that exceeds 40°C, or rapidly switch between hot and cold water, which causes blood vessels to suddenly expand and contract, possibly inducing a heart attack or stroke, the officials said. People with diabetes can easily be burned, as they are often less sensitive to temperatures due to damaged sensory nerves, they said. Soaking in hot springs after a meal should be avoided, as alcohol and spicy foods combined with the hot temperature can increase the heart rate, sometimes leading to a heart attack or stroke, they said. People should seek their doctor’s advice before visiting a hot spring and should never go to a hot spring alone, they added. The Central Weather Bureau yesterday said that chilly weather is expected throughout Taiwan today and tomorrow, with nighttime temperatures falling considerably from daytime temperatures. In related news, Da Chien General Hospital vice dean Tsai Chien-tsung (蔡建宗) on Friday said that Miaoli’s Da Chien General Hospital and Wei Kung Hospital admitted 12 people for carbon monoxide poisoning over the past 15 days. The people were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy and have recovered, the
The husband and wife owners of Rixun Inc were yesterday taken into custody for allegedly using company products to defraud more than 2,400 investors nationwide of more than NT$6 billion (US$210.67 million). After being questioned by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, Hsu Hsien-ming (徐明賢) and his Japanese wife, Mitsuko Azuchi, were detained. They were among 17 people summoned by authorities on Thursday. The couple, along with an accountant and the company’s executives, could be charged with fraud, illegal fundraising and breaches of the Banking Act (銀行法), prosecutors said, adding that they allegedly used multi-level marketing, like a Ponzi scheme, to defraud investors. An investigation showed that Rixun, established in 2013 with a core of 12 executives and accountants, conducted investment seminars throughout Taiwan to promote its video phone and its “Freely” tablet computer. People were allegedly persuaded to invest NT$147,000 in a set of six video phones or “Freely” tablets, which Rixun would rent out to users, while the investors were promised NT$6,000 per month and a “guaranteed profit” of 15 percent for the first three years, prosecutors said. Each investor was allegedly encouraged to sign up their family members and friends as lower-level members in the scheme, with a signing bonus of NT$14,000 for each new member and other bonuses for product promotion, they said. Raids of Rixun’s headquarters and the couple’s residence on Thursday uncovered records for more than 2,400 members, while prosecutors said that the scheme brought in NT$6.3 billion in illicit profits. Victims of the scheme filed complaints with local authorities to get their investment money back, with some saying that they realized it was a fraud after they received the promised NT$6,000 for a few months, but then nothing after that. The couple registered several other companies in Taiwan, such as T-Voice Co (Japan) Taiwan branch, which they promoted as having the latest
New Taipei City authorities last week broke into a home in the city’s Yonghe District (永和) to take emergency custody of a 12-year-old boy who had been kept out of school and isolated from society. The boy, who has lived with his father since the age of two, has never attended school and has been isolated from the outside world, New Taipei City Social Welfare Department Commissioner Chang Ching-li (張錦麗) said on Friday. The child’s physical well-being is a real concern, as he only weighs 19kg, is 1.1m tall and only has 12 teeth, Chang said. Five years ago, the authorities wrote to the father, when the boy did not start attending elementary school, but he ignored the communication, Chang said. Social services became involved in November 2019 and shortly thereafter sought the assistance of local prosecutors and the police. The father often took trips abroad and owned a number of residences, but police tracked him down in October last year and ordered him to report to the local prosecutors’ office, the department said. However, after meeting with prosecutors, the father changed his son’s household registration to Pingtung County in an effort to hide from the New Taipei City authorities. Learning that the tactic was a ruse, the authorities on Tuesday located the child in an apartment in Yonghe. CITY STEPS IN When police officers broke into the apartment, the child was alone, sitting on a sofa covered with a thin quilt, despite the cold temperature. The residence had an unpleasant odor and was poorly maintained, Chang said. A determination was made that the boy’s care and living conditions were detrimental to his physiological development and he was promptly taken into custody, he added. The father did not agree with the department’s determination and on Wednesday petitioned the local court for the boy’s return. Media reports quoted the father as saying that he
With nearly 20,000 knee replacement surgeries performed each year in Taiwan, mainly due to degenerative joint disease, China Medical University Hospital deputy director Lee Kuang-sheng (李光申) urged people to do more to protect their knees. Degenerative knee diseases result from aging, sustaining an injury, being overweight or overusing joints, which cause the knee joints to wear out and make walking difficult, Lee said on Jan. 8. A woman surnamed Wei (魏), 62, had been an athlete and 15 years ago, she began to feel pain in her right knee, Lee said, adding that she would limp when the pain was worse. In October last year, her knee was replaced with an artificial joint and she could walk normally five days after her discharge, he said. Another woman surnamed Kung (孔), 54, had been a farmer and was now a cleaner who often needed to carry heavy objects, Lee said. Her knee joints deteriorated to the point where she could no longer squat because of the pain, but she resumed a normal life after receiving orthopedic surgery in September last year, he said. If medication and physical therapy prove ineffective, those who have difficulty walking due to knee pain should consider having their knee joints replaced with artificial joints, Lee said. Painkillers are of no use when a knee joint has deteriorated more than 50 percent, he added. Knee replacement surgery is partly covered by the National Health Insurance system, Lee said, adding that the surgery is technologically advanced, taking a short time and only leaving a small incision, while artificial joints last up to 15 years. Men who need knee replacements are generally 70 years old, while women generally experience knee degeneration five to six years earlier, mainly due to softer ligaments and additional wear from high-heeled shoes, he said. To extend the health of knees, people should do less
OBITUARY Chen Lee Shen passes at 94 Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) mother, Chen Lee Shen (陳李慎), 94, passed away yesterday of multiple organ failure and sepsis. Chen Shui-bian posted on Facebook that his mother died peacefully in her sleep at Madou Sin-Lau Hospital, saying that he thanked the doctors and nurses for their care of his mother over the past nine months. No public ceremony is to be held out of respect for his mother’s wishes, he added. Chen Lee Shen shared a close relationship with the former president and his incarceration left her distraught, until his medical parole, sources close to the family said. In her final years, Chen Lee Shen was concerned over whether her son would obtain a presidential pardon, the sources added. Chen Shui-bian was sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and bribery, but was released on parole on Jan. 6, 2015, due to deteriorating health. ENTERTAINMENT Film festival announced The Taipei Film Festival began accepting submissions on Friday for its Taipei Film Awards and International New Talent Competition. The Taipei Culture Foundation said that the talent competition is open to debut feature films or second efforts of filmmakers from around the world, while the film awards are for locally made films directed by Taiwanese or residents of Taiwan. All entrants must comply with the rules set by the Ministry of Culture, the foundation added. The talent competition winner would receive NT$600,000 (US$21,067), while the film award winner would receive NT$1 million. A Special Jury Prize of NT$300,000 would also be awarded in the talent competition. The Taipei Film Festival, now in its 23rd year, would show a series of Taiwanese and foreign films from June 24 to July 10. HEALTH Infant dies following blaze A one-year-old child who was in critical condition after being rescued from a burning
Military police officers ride camouflaged motorcycles during a rapid reaction drill at yesterday’s 89th anniversary celebrations of the Military Police Command in Taipei’s Zhongshan District.
COMMUNICATION: Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan said parks should be proposed based on national spatial planning, and water and power demand considered
While the Executive Yuan is considering setting up science parks in Pingtung and Chiayi counties, there is some criticism about whether science parks are needed in every city and county. Minister of Science and Technology Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) on Wednesday told a news conference that the government is planning a new type of science park on less than 100 hectares to promote innovative, energy-saving businesses and improve community relations. Wu’s remarks came after Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) visited Pingtung on Sunday to inspect the planned site for a new high-speed railway station and announced a plan to establish a new science park. Su on Dec. 19 last year inspected industries in Chiayi, where he promised to evaluate the possibility of setting up a science park. He reaffirmed the promise after dining with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers on Wednesday night — the eve of the second anniversary of his premiership. However, some Internet users have questioned whether the plans would only benefit business speculators and why some science parks in agricultural regions, such as in Changhua County, lay idle. Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan deputy executive director Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳) said that the government should develop detailed plans for parks before announcing them. First, it should determine which plots of idle land are not part of proposals and find out what resources are needed by Taiwanese businesses returning home, he said. Instead of developing separate plans, the science ministry and the Ministry of Economic Affairs — which oversees industrial parks — should communicate, he added. The government should make plans from the perspective of national spatial planning and tell the public what might be sacrificed by erecting new science parks, he said. If science parks are to house businesses related to semiconductors and electronics, the government should assess how much water and electricity would be needed, and push the companies
DETERIORATING HEALTH: Sufin Siluko’s lawyers told the court that his heart condition, diabetes, joint pain and high blood pressure worsened in confinement
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) was yesterday released on NT$10 million (US$351,124) bail after his defense lawyers successfully petitioned the Taipei District Court that he should be freed due to deteriorating health. In September last year, Sufin, KMT Legislator Chen Chao-ming (陳超明), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) were indicted for allegedly taking bribes in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) two-decade-long battle with the Far Eastern Group over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store chain. Of the major figures charged in the case, only Su and his top aide, Hsu Hsueh-yang (余學洋), remain in detention, as the other lawmakers have been released on bail. At yesterday’s hearing, Sufin’s lawyers requested for his release on NT$2 million bail, saying that the defendant only had NT$2.96 million in cash, plus difficult-to-sell properties. They pledged that their client would not flee Taiwan. The defense added that Sufin has a heart condition, diabetes, joint pain in his legs and high blood pressure that are aggrevated by his detention. The court found Sufin to be a flight risk, given the charges against him, but said that there was no reason to hold him, as the investigation had completed taking people’s testimonies. The court set his bail at NT$10 million and restricted his movement to his residence. The four lawmakers have been charged with bribery and breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例). Their aides and office staff have also been indicted for allegedly receiving bribes.
Control Yuan members yesterday voted to impeach former Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭) over allegations that he had extra-marital affairs when he was director of the Kaohsiung Information Bureau. The Control Yuan’s review committee voted to impeach Ting 11-0. In its report, the Control Yuan said that his actions contravened Articles 1 and 5 of the Civil Servant Work Act (公務員服務法), and Article 2 of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act (性騷擾防治法). In September last year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) approved Ting’s resignation after the Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine reported that he had relationships with four women at the same time while serving as the bureau’s director in 2014, even though he was engaged to be married at the time. It also quoted one of Ting’s former girlfriends as saying that they had sex several times in his Kaohsiung office during work hours and that she had terminated three pregnancies at Ting’s insistence so as not to affect his career. Control Yuan members Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) wrote in their investigative report that Ting brought dishonor on the civil service and tarnished the image of government officials. Ting headed the bureau under then-Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), before serving as Presidential Office spokesman from May 2019 until his resignation. Yesterday, Ting said in a statement that the impeachment was an unfair decision. “It was wrong to have sex at the city government office,” Ting said. “[But impeachment] is an unjust decision, as the Control Yuan members had already set their sights on persecuting me.” The Control Yuan was wrong to say that sexual harassment was involved, Ting said. “It was a normal relationship between a man and a woman. I never used my position to intimidate her and no sexual harassment took place,” he added. “During our relationship, she mostly took the initiative in contacting me,” he said.
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft yesterday released a prepared speech to Model UN students in Taiwan after her physical visit was canceled, encouraging them to stay firm because “one day you, too, will be standing here.” If the US Department of State had not canceled all overseas trips this week, Craft would have delivered — in person — her speech to students in Taipei on Thursday afternoon, following a morning meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), as part of a planned three-day visit to Taiwan. After a virtual meeting with Tsai on Thursday, the US Mission to the UN yesterday released a video of her prepared speech to the students. Speaking from the UN General Assembly Hall, Craft said: “It is here, and in other UN venues, where the United States makes clear its support for a role for Taiwan on the global stage.” “The United States believes that Taiwan is a force for good in the world, and that is very true,” Craft said. “It is also true that young women and men, like you, deserve to pursue careers and opportunities, and on the international stage, including in organizations such as the World Health Organization, where your expertise has been proven undeniable.” “We need organizations like the Model UN to help illuminate the path forward for the actual UN. And so, your efforts here are perhaps more significant than you may realize,” she added. “You are in the final days of one great change — it is not finished. But for now, school yourselves in reserve, say only what you mean and avoid any signs of temper, but hold strong with your own spirit of what truly counts. Do not mistake the present moment for a determination for your future,” she said. “Stay firm, say the words of democracy even in the wake
The Ministry of National Defense has signed a NT$339.24 million (US$11.91 million) contract with the US to maintain the army’s Bell AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters, public information on the government’s procurement platform showed. The contract was signed by a military delegation and the American Institute in Taiwan to secure spare parts and technical support for the army’s AH-1Ws until Sept. 30, 2027, an official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The military is replacing the AH-1W with the AH-1Z Viper, but is concerned over potential safety issues such structural aging, even though the legacy fleet’s operational readiness is satisfactory, the official said. Some parts are no longer manufactured since the US Marine Corp decommissioned its last AH-1W in October last year, the official said. Taiwan bought a three-and-a-half year supply of parts for NT$1.46 billion in 2019, which would last until the middle of next year, the official said. Taiwan bought 42 AH-1Ws in 1992 and another batch of 21 in 1997, although two aircraft were lost due to accidents. The AH-1Ws are deployed by two attack helicopter squadrons of the 602nd Air Cavalry Brigade.
NO CASH: The new regulations have been postponed because most Indonesian local governments have yet to allocate a budget for the training and placement fees
The Indonesian government is to require employers of Indonesian migrant workers and Indonesian local governments to pay part of their placement fees starting on July 15, rather than yesterday as previously announced. The new policy, aimed at easing the financial burden on Indonesian migrant workers, would remove the requirement for 11 types of worker, including domestic helpers and construction workers, to pay a placement fee and have the overseas employer and local government pay it instead. The new regulations have been postponed because most Indonesian local governments have yet to allocate a budget for the training and placement fees they would be responsible for, Indonesian National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers head Benny Rhamdani said. Of the 34 provinces in Indonesia, only the local government in East Java has a budget to cover the costs associated with training, certificates and fees, Rhamdani said at a news conference yesterday. Efforts continue to enlist the cooperation of local governments, he said, and meetings with the authorities in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are also being scheduled to discuss the new regulations. Rhamdani pledged to resign if the policy could not be implemented because of funding issues, as he does not want Indonesian migrant workers to continue to be burdened by placement fees. The policy, first announced in July last year, requires the employer of an Indonesian migrant worker to cover the costs of a passport, a return flight, a work visa, a medical checkup, and transportation and accommodation in the destination nation. At present, some employers cover the air fare and fees related to verifying the contract signed between them and the migrant worker, the Ministry of Labor said. The new regulations are to be applied to 14 nations that import workers from Indonesia. The ministry yesterday said that the nation’s representative office in Indonesia
Taiwan yesterday recorded one new imported case of COVID-19 involving an Indonesian who arrived in the nation last month to work on a fishing boat, the Central Epidemic Command Center said. The Indonesian male, in his 20s, arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 31 with a negative test report, center spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a news conference in Taipei. He did not display any symptoms of the disease, Chuang said. The man was tested again on Wednesday prior to his release from a 14-day mandatory quarantine and the result came back positive yesterday, he said. Due to the high CT value of the test, which indicated the presence of only a small amount of viral genetic material and that the infection had likely run its course, the man was most likely infected a while ago in Indonesia, he added. No contact tracing was required, as the man had not come in contact with anyone during his time in Taiwan, Chuang said. Meanwhile, a new disease prevention regulation took effect yesterday whereby a home can only be used for quarantine if the person stays at the property on their own. Previously people arriving in Taiwan could quarantine at a residence along with other people. The tighter measure was introduced in response to the emergence of new more contagious variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, the center said, adding those found to have a breached the regulation would be fined NT$100,000 to NT$1 million (US$3,511 and US$35,112). The center has also updated its disease prevention guidelines to provide more clarity on the rules ahead of the Lunar New Year, as Taiwanese living overseas in areas where COVID-19 is more prevalent prepare to return home for the holiday. The latest update specifically addresses questions people might have about “self-health management,” a period of seven days during which arrivals to Taiwan must
More than 80 percent of schools breach Ministry of Education regulations and do not allow students to wear winter clothing, a group of youth organizations said on Thursday, calling on the ministry to enforce its rules. A survey of 1,438 students at 853 schools found that 84.3 percent of schools are ignoring ministry regulations that allow students to wear winter clothing inside or outside their uniform during cold weather, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said. The regulations also state that the definition of “cold weather” should be determined by the student rather than the school, the association said. However, students reported being punished or issued a warning if they wore a hat, gloves, jacket or scarf without obtaining permission in advance, it said. About 54 percent of schools still maintain an outright ban on students wearing warm clothing on top of their uniform, while others stipulate a certain temperature under which students can wear winter clothing, it added. Some schools restrict certain types of clothing without advance permission, such as scarves, hats or sweatshirts, and even particular colors, the association said. Punishments ranged from a warning to doing push-ups, cleaning or running errands, the survey showed. Association deputy director Ho Wei-tzu (何蔚慈) said that the survey responses show that the practice has continued for a long time and students feel powerless to stop it. Student associations that have attempted to impose the ministry’s regulations through proper channels have been pressured or threatened by administrators, Ho said. It is ironic that so many schools require their students to follow their rules, but are not themselves following the ministry’s rules, he said. The ministry’s K-12 Education Administration should investigate whether schools are following the regulations and not leave it up to students to fight for their rights, he added. The K-12 Education Administration yesterday said that it had reissued documents to