Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 for children and adolescents were delivered to local governments yesterday, and vaccinations are to start today in some cities and counties, the Central Epidemic Command Center said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 403,200 doses of the vaccines for children aged five to 11 as their first shot, and for adolescents aged 12 to 17 as their booster shot, had been delivered. The schedules for vaccinations at hospitals and schools differ in each city or county, based on local health departments’ arrangements, he said. About 1.62 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adults and adolescents were also being delivered to local governments, 343,980 doses on Friday last week and another 515,970 today, he added. Another 268,800 doses for children are to be delivered on Friday, Chen said. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents and adults contains 30 micrograms of mRNA, the active ingredient, per dose, while its vaccine for children contains 10 micrograms of mRNA per dose. The formula for calculating the demand for children’s vaccines in each city and county is 70 percent of the population in the age group minus 80 percent of the eligible recipients who had agreed to receive the Moderna vaccine in a survey and the number of children who had recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, Chen said. Additional doses would be offered to cities or counties where the prevalence of COVID-19 infection is 4,000 per 100,000 people or higher, he said. “Parents do not have to worry, as we have sufficient doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children,” Chen said, adding that they can get vaccinated at healthcare facilities or at school. Some schools might delay administering vaccines and while the center respects their decision, it would urge schools not to delay vaccinations for too
POST-PANDEMIC TRAVEL: With prices forecast to jump by 30% to 50%, the nation’s largest travel firm promised to provide safe and higher-quality tours
Overseas package tour fees are expected to be 30 to 50 percent higher than pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels as global inflation has increased the cost of airfares, as well as transportation and accommodation costs, Lion Travel said yesterday. The nation’s largest travel agency made the remarks while announcing the launch of a survey of travel destinations that people most want to visit should the government reopen the nation’s borders in July as planned. Many areas have lifted border control measures and allowed fully vaccinated visitors to enter without having to quarantine, including South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the US, the UK and the EU. Japan yesterday launched a “test tourism” program in the form of limited package tours to gather data before a planned full reopening next month. Taiwan is likely to allow limited international travel at the initial stage, before gradually removing quarantine requirements for inbound travelers, the travel agency said. Lion Travel general manager and spokeswoman Ann Lai (賴一青) said that travelers could pay 30 to 50 percent more for package tours than they did before the pandemic. A five-day group tour to Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture would cost at least NT$40,000, while a five-day package tour to Tokyo would cost NT$50,000 or more, Lai said. The cost of a 10-day or longer tour of Europe or North America could vary from NT$100,000 to NT$120,000, she said. “We estimate that tourism in the post-pandemic era will experience a V-shaped recovery, with prices gradually becoming stable again,” she added. The travel agency has pledged to enhance the quality of its tours, as travel safety and disease prevention are expected to be two key factors in consumers’ selections of overseas tour packages, Lai said. “We would require tour guides and tour bus drivers to be inoculated with at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and show that they have tested negative in
The Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Labor yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve the safety of firefighters on duty. The interior ministry’s National Fire Agency joined forces with the labor ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Institute of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health to provide further protection for firefighters and take care of their physical and mental health. The MOU was signed by Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), Deputy Minister of Labor Wang Shang-chih (王尚志) and National Fire Agency Director-General Hsiao Huan-chang (蕭煥章). Chen said he hoped the cooperation could help build a safe working environment for firefighters, as their work, such as disaster relief and first aid, is high risk. Taking good care of them is an important job, he added. According to the MOU, which was drawn up referencing the US’ NFPA1500 — Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health and Wellness Program — upgraded firefighting equipment and training would be provided, he said. The National Fire Agency has been communicating with local governments in the hope of solving the problem of overtime work by the end of this year, an issue that was pointed out in Constitutional Interpretation No. 785, he said. Wang expressed his hope that firefighters, who are not protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法), can “live safely, be safe and feel safe” under the protective mechanism based on the MOU. The agency also presented the outcome of its efforts in promoting a safe workplace for firefighters, including a disaster relief safety handbook, firefighting training materials, a safety database for disaster relief workers and a support program for firefighters with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It provided in-depth information about various disasters that can be caused by different raw materials and products in high-tech plants to broaden firefighters’ knowledge. It also signed an
The New Taipei City Hakka Museum is until June 15 holding a special exhibition of everyday objects utilized in traditional Hakka culture. The household objects include tools, clothes, religious artifacts, utensils and musical instruments, the city’s Hakka Affairs Department said in a news release on May 13, adding that the artifacts embody the Hakka virtues of practicality, sturdiness and frugality. One of the items on exhibit is qisi mao (氣死貓), a bamboo food basket that can be suspended from the beam of the house via a loop to protect its content from cats and mice, it said. The vase-like container has a tapering mouth that can be sealed with a lid and its loop can also be used as a handle, it added. Another object on display is a container made of rattan with a tight spiral weave resembling a bird’s nest that can hold a pot of tea and help it retain heat for a longer period, it said. The exhibition also features traditional women’s clothing, which were loosely fitted for ease of movement, comfort and functionality, it said. These clothes include lan shan (藍衫), a typically blue, knee-length upper garment that has an opening on the right side, and da tang ku (大襠褲), which is a straight-cut lower garment that resembles baggy trousers, it said. A children’s hat called feng mao (風帽) has a flap that protects the neck from the cold, it said. Hakka utensils on display include a collection of colorful rice bowls, the department said, adding that these ceramic vessels played an important symbolic role in family life and were frequently exchanged as gifts. Other objects on display include a fisher’s basket, a straw raincoat and hat, a dustpan and a carrying rod.
Musician Jeremy Lee (李振全) has won the ninth Hybrid Original Tournament despite having severe paralysis due to spinal cord injuries. With the help of singer Liu Meng-chia (劉孟佳) and guitarist Chen Pao-sheng (陳寶升), Lee competed with about 150 teams in the “slashie’s group,” won a semi-final held at Kaohsiung’s Hanshin Arena last month and was crowned the champion with the song This Night, We Say Goodbye (這一夜我們說再見). A native of Tainan, Lee, 38, started learning to play guitar and writing songs in junior-high school, which aroused his passion for music, and went on to win a national music competition with his band at university. Just before he signed a contract with a record company 10 years ago, he was involved in a serious traffic accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. The accident did not end his music career, thanks to the invention of a mouth-operated computer trackpad, which allowed him to create music with his computer and continue his musical dream, Lee said. Lee and his partners finished his first album, Move On, in 2019 and recently launched a mini-album, All the Way Youth (一路青年), after writing and recording all of the music in a small living room before releasing it online. Lee released the first album under his own name, but was frequently asked whether he was the lead singer. All of the songs were performed by his friends, as he can barely sing more than three words due to the injury. He later came up with the band name Jeremy ’n Friends, under which he cooperated with his friends and released the second mini-album. They performed at Tainan’s Wan Sha Performing Arts Center last month to promote All the Way Youth. Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲), after hearing Lee’s inspiring story, attended the concert and gave Lee’s mother flowers for Mother’s Day. Lee said
PEACE THROUGH HEALTH: Lithuanian health minister Arunas Dulkys said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that needs global responses, including Taiwan
Ten nations on Monday voiced their support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly (WHA) during the second day of the annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, after a proposal to invite it to the gathering was not put on the agenda. The 10 nations that spoke up for Taiwan were two diplomatic allies — Paraguay and Guatemala — as well as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Luxembourg and Lithuania. It was the first time that a Lithuanian health minister had publicly voiced the nation’s support for Taipei’s WHA bid by directly naming Taiwan at the annual gathering. In his address, Lithuanian Minister of Health Arunas Dulkys said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that needs global responses. “We emphasize the importance and adherence to the principle of effective multilateralism to be able to build a secure global health architecture,” Dulkys said. “Therefore, we call on you to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the WHA, and increase Taiwan’s meaningful participation in all WHO forums and mechanisms,” he added. “This step would allow the international community to benefit from Taiwan’s experience, and scientific and technical expertise, as well as support the WHO’s mission to advance global health and commitment to working for peace through health, and for health through peace,” he said. In his address at the WHA last year, Dulkys did not directly name Taiwan, but said that all nations needed to be involved in global health issues. Meanwhile, US Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Loyce Pace said it was regrettable that Taiwan had once again been excluded from the WHA. “The US deeply regrets that Taiwan, a critical partner contributing constructively to global health, has been excluded from attending the assembly as an observer,” Pace said. “This administration believes in the need for
AFRICAN ARRIVALS: The foreign ministry said that Promise Msibi of Eswatini and South Africa’s Hugh Anderson arrived on April 27 and have finished quarantine
Eswatini’s new ambassador and South Africa’s new representative to Taiwan have arrived to take up their respective posts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Ambassador Promise Msibi and his wife arrived on April 27 and have completed COVID-19 quarantine, Department of West Asian and African Affairs Deputy Director Wu Cheng-wei (吳正偉) said. Msibi presented a copy of his letter of credence to Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday morning, Wu Cheng-wei said, adding that the ministry is arranging a time with the Presidential Office to allow the new envoy to present the original letter to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which will mark the official beginning of his ambassadorship. Msibi, 57, is a senior Eswatini diplomat who has visited Taiwan twice, as a parliamentary secretary in 2004 and to accompany Swazi King Mswati III’s mother to attend Double Ten National Day celebrations in 2011, the ministry said. Msibi is highly trusted by King Mswati III, making him a good choice as Eswatini’s ambassador to Taiwan, Wu Cheng-wei said. Msibi is taking over the post following the departure of Thamie Dlamini, who has left Taiwan to become Eswatini’s representative to the UN. Meanwhile, Hugh Anderson also arrived on April 27 with his wife, has completed quarantine and recently assumed office as the new representative of the Liaison Office of South Africa in Taiwan. The office represents South African interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties. Anderson, 63, is a senior South African diplomat who previously served as deputy head of Latin American affairs and US affairs at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa’s foreign ministry, Wu Cheng-wei said. Anderson’s previous overseas posts include serving at South Africa’s embassies in Finland, Brazil, Venezuela and Austria, he said. His appointment filled the vacancy of his predecessor, Robert Matsebe, he said.
The Maritime and Port Bureau and seven container shipping firms yesterday pledged to finance more young people to pursue careers in the shipping industry amid a global maritime labor shortage worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian war. The firms that signed a memorandum of understanding with the bureau are Evergreen Marine Corp, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp, Wan Hai Lines, China Steel Express, U-Ming Marine, Kuan Ming Shipping and TVL Business Group. The training program has gained overwhelming support from the shipping industry, as it integrates resources from the government, large shipping carriers and welfare groups, as well as vocational schools and universities offering maritime courses and degrees, the bureau said. The industry has experienced a severe labor shortage over the past few years, with shipping firms vying to recruit talent, Yang Ming Marine Transport chairman and chief executive officer Cheng Chen-mount (鄭貞茂) said. “We welcome more young people to join the shipping industry, which offers well-paid and technically oriented positions. The monthly salary for ratings, who carry out support work for officers in all departments aboard, is about NT$80,000 to NT$90,000. The monthly salary of a captain is about NT$300,000,” Cheng said. Life on a container ship is not as boring as people think, he said. “Mariners must be skilled to handle various situations that could happen at sea,” he said. “Modern container ships are equipped with gyms, karaoke bars and other entertainment facilities. Crew members have their own rooms and are served daily with food prepared by cooks. They can talk on the phone with family members via the 5G system every day and have three months of paid vacation each year.” More women are seeking careers in the shipping industry, which allows people to travel around the world and earn higher salaries, Cheng added. Alex Li (李德仁), assistant manager at Yang Ming Marine
The government must not describe those who scrutinize its foreign relations as “looking down on Taiwan,” as the nation’s diplomatic predicament is “a plain fact and clear to everyone,” Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) said yesterday. “Taiwanese were shocked by the news that Taiwan was left out” of the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Chiu told a news conference in Taipei after the membership of the framework was announced. “Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) had told the legislature that in principle, Taiwan was likely to be included,” Chiu said. “President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also spoke of ‘rock solid’ ties with the US.” The Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee had also conveyed to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) that Taiwan wished to join the framework, but the request seems to have “been in vain,” he said. “Taiwan plays a key role in the global semiconductor supply chain, which is consistent with the core focus of the framework, so you can imagine the disappointment at the noninclusion,” he said. The government would still negotiate with the US about other ways Taiwan could meaningfully participate in the trade framework, and on the possibility that Taiwan and US could work out a bilateral trade agreement, Chiu said. When Taiwan allowed imports of US pork containing ractopamine six months ago, the government had said it was a necessary step for Taiwan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), TPP Legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) said. “Today we are still not in the CPTPP, and now we are also excluded from the IPEF. We have eaten the pigs, we have bought the arms, we have passed the budgets, but has the US helped us solve our difficulties?” she asked. “The government should be clear about the state of Taiwan-US relations.”
Shortly after dawn on a southern Taiwanese beach, Robin Hsu’s (許耿睿) iPhone pings with the first radio message of the day from the air force as it warns away Chinese aircraft. “Attention,” a voice says on the radio, speaking in Mandarin to a Chinese military plane flying at an altitude of 3,500m. “You have entered our southwestern air defense identification zone and are jeopardizing aviation safety. Turn around and leave immediately.” Taiwan has complained for years of repeated Chinese air force missions into its air defense identification zone, which is not territorial airspace, but a broader area it monitors for threats. Although the Ministry of National Defense details these almost-daily incursions on its Web site, including maps outlining the activity, a band of Taiwanese radio enthusiasts like Hsu has been tuning in to related radio traffic and publishing the recordings online. “The Chinese communist planes are like flies on your dining table. If you kill them on your plate then your meal is ruined,” said Hsu, 50, a tour guide and military enthusiast. “All you can do is to wave them away.” The action ebbs and flows. On one day this month, when reporters accompanied Hsu, nine other warnings were broadcast to Chinese warplanes after the one at dawn. The Chinese aircraft have not fired a shot and have not come near Taiwan’s shores, the military has said. However, the incursions amount to a low-key war of attrition, as the nation frequently scrambles aircraft to intercept Chinese planes. The ministry has termed the flights “gray zone” tactics, designed to exhaust its air defenses physically and financially. Halfway through lunch, Hsu’s iPhone — which is linked to a separate radio antenna — tracked another broadcast, this time in English. “Chinese Air Force, I am a United States aircraft operating in international airspace and exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law,”
There should be a global effort to address gender inequality and gender-based violence, Australia’s top envoy to Taiwan said at the opening of an international conference in Taipei yesterday. “Gender-based violence is rooted in gender inequality, harmful norms and the abuse of power,” Australian Office in Taipei Jenny Bloomfield said at the opening of the two-day event about tackling gender-based violence, which allows virtual participation. Bloomfield, who spoke on behalf of seven foreign missions in Taiwan that cohosted the conference with the government, said that gender-based violence is “a serious violation of human rights” with “devastating” consequences, and that countries around the world should work together to address the problem. “Ending gender-based violence requires a national and a global effort from governments, workplaces, schools, communities and individuals working together to change social norms, attitudes and behaviors to eliminate gender inequality,” she said. She described the Taipei conference as part of the global effort to tackle the problem. Intimate partner violence, and cyberviolence against women and girls in many countries had increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the rate of abuse was much higher for younger women, women with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTIQ, she said. The two-day conference is part of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) initiative, and features the most countries and partners involved as cohosts, including the US, Japan, Canada, the UK and the EU, among all GCTF events since the initiative was established in 2015, the Executive Yuan said. The initiative was launched by Taiwan and the US that year and has since expanded to include other partners. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said at the event that Taiwan looks forward to working with the governments and experts taking part in the event to find ways to better tackle gender-based violence. The two-day event brings together government officials, academics and representatives from
Five maternity assistants from Eswatini and medical workers pose for a photograph yesterday on the first day of a three-month training program at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, as the hospital helps Eswatini promote medical care for pregnant women and newborn babies.
Members of the Wulu indigenous community, the Taiwan Presbyterian Church and civic groups protest outside the Control Yuan in Taipei yesterday to call on the government to return ancestral land. A plot of land in Taitung County was appropriated from the community after the 1914 Wulu Massacre and is now being used by China Telecom for a cell tower.
NO EASY ACCESS: People who wish to view a city councilor’s financial statement must first register with the Control Yuan, and are not allowed to take pictures
The Legislative Yuan should quickly pass an amendment to make the financial status of city and county councilors more transparent ahead of November’s elections, New Power Party (NPP) legislators said yesterday. NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) and NPP Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) made the remarks after signing a financial transparency pledge at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, along with the party’s candidates for the upcoming nine-in-one local elections. The party has pushed to amend the Act on Property Declaration by Public Servants (公職人員財產申報法) since 2020, after city and county councilors were charged or accused of contravening anti-money laundering regulations, Chen said, adding that some were even accused of using fraudulent claims to apply for subsidies for their assistants. “We believe the public should be able to view the financial disclosure statements of city and county councilors online, just as they can with other civil servants,” she said. “The legislature should quickly fix the loopholes by passing the amendment.” When the act was first passed in 1993, councilors of the special municipalities and the then Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council were obligated to file financial disclosure statements, which could be published in government gazettes, Chiu said. “However, an amendment to the act passed in 2007 inadvertently exempted city and local councilors from having their financial statements published online or in government gazettes. This is a sign of democratic backtracking,” he said. “We support the Executive Yuan’s version of the amendment, which will rectify the situation,” he added. “If passed before the end of this month, the amendment would be in effect for the November election. The public would be able to examine more complete profiles of candidates running in the election.” Under current regulations, a person seeking to view the financial disclosure statements of a local city councilor must first register on the Control Yuan’s Web site and state
The number of Chinese nationals entering Taiwan has dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no Chinese arriving as tourists, government statistics showed. Only about 13,000 Chinese entered Taiwan last year amid strict border control measures to prevent the virus spreading, compared with more than 2.68 million in 2019. Chinese nationals must apply for a visa before entering Taiwan. They may enter the nation for social exchanges, professional exchanges, business exchanges, medical exchanges or tourism, according to the Act on Permission for Entrance of People of the Mainland Area into the Taiwan Area (大陸地區人民進入台灣地區許可辦法). The number of Chinese nationals who visited Taiwan for social exchanges dropped from 66,717 in 2019 to 1,484 last year. Of those, 153 visited relatives, 1,284 reunited with their families and 47 attended funerals or transported ashes. The number of Chinese who visited Taiwan for professional exchanges fell from 90,994 in 2019 to 73 last year. Thirteen of those traveled to conduct religion-related research and studies, including several Tibetan Buddhist monks who were prosecuted in China and came to Taiwan to attend events under special permission by the government, people with knowledge of the matter said. The others were 25 airline staff deployed in Taiwan, 15 reporters, nine investment and management personnel, four organization staff, four people with ad hoc permissions, two who helped train a national sports team and one who arrived for short-term exchanges. Chinese nationals who entered Taiwan for business exchanges mostly visited to deliver speeches, undertake business studies or training, attend events or provide services as relocated staff in multinational enterprises. A total of 888 Chinese visited Taiwan for these purposes last year, compared with about 10,000 people annually before the pandemic. To balance disease prevention and economic development, the Central Epidemic Command Center on March 7 allowed business travelers from China to enter Taiwan to sign contracts or assume
Ninth graders were asked to define “trolling” on this year’s standardized exam, reflecting efforts to make the test better reflect real-life situations. Adjustments to this year’s Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students were revealed on Sunday, after the last cohort of students completed the test over the weekend. The Ministry of Education solicited feedback about the test from teachers, who approved of the new question in the English portion. Not only was question No. 20 “very much in line with real-life situations,” but it also used a new style in which students were asked to ascertain the correct dictionary definition based on a given passage, Sinjhuang Junior High teacher Lina Tseng (曾麗娜) said. The passage quoted a man named Josh as saying: “Why are they trolling me like this?” while providing context clues suggesting he was criticized online for sharing his opinions about a television show. The dictionary has many definitions for “troll,” although students who play video games are likely familiar with its usage as a mythological cave-dwelling creature, Tseng said. Yet it can also refer to fishing, pulling or — as it is commonly used these days — as the verb for antagonizing others online, she said. All four possible answers on the exam were real definitions for “troll,” making it necessary to read the passage, she said, adding that there were enough clues such as the word “screen” suggesting a computer to make it easy for students to answer. Overall, teachers said the most difficult questions on this year’s English portion concerned an article on current events in Cameroon — with students being asked to ascertain the author’s attitude and select the definition of “resentful” — and a full-page infographic on sugar consumption. However, they said they were still confident that “students’ hard work would pay off.” Test designers responded to concerns that the test
CHOSEN VIA SURVEYS: Legislator Lin Wei-chou said that he would listen to the demands of residents and turn Jhubei into a more livable city
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) on Saturday narrowly won the party’s primary to run for mayor in Hsinchu County’s Jhubei City (竹北市) in November’s local elections. Lin won 52 percent of the vote, edging out his only opponent, Jhubei City Council Chairman Lin Chi-hsien (林啟賢), who garnered 48 percent of the vote. The primary was carried out via two surveys conducted by the United Daily News and Shih Hsin University from Wednesday to Friday, with each survey collecting about 1,000 responses, the party said. Following his victory, Lin Wei-chou took to social media to thank the city’s residents for their support, while pledging to build Jhubei into a more livable city by utilizing his experience working at the Hsinchu County Council and in the legislature. Lin Wei-chou accused the Jhubei City Government led by independent Mayor Ho Kan-ming (何淦銘), who is restricted by term limits from running again, of negligence and failing to fulfill the expectations of the city’s residents. Lin Wei-chou said he would “listen carefully to the needs of the people” and strive to turn his vision of ensuring the well-being of Jhubei’s 206,000 residents into a reality. The Democratic Progressive Party has yet to nominate a candidate for the Jhubei mayoral race. Following his defeat, Lin Chi-hsien said he would give his utmost support to Lin Wei-chou’s election campaign. Lin Wei-chou served as Hsinchu county councilor for seven years before being elected legislator for the first time in 2005. He left the legislature in 2008 and again served as county councilor from 2010 to 2016. He was again elected legislator in 2016.
GUIDELINES: Having at least one of 12 indicators of being at high risk of developing severe symptoms, such as diabetes, is one of four criteria required to take the antiviral
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday revised eligibility criteria for taking Paxlovid, an oral antiviral for treating COVID-19, adding “women who have given birth within six weeks” to the list and removing “current or former smokers,” effective immediately. A total of 1,053 courses of Paxlovid and 307 of molnupiravir, another oral antiviral for treating COVID-19, were prescribed on Sunday, lower than the numbers prescribed on weekdays, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “I have watched a lot of related news this morning and it seems that many people are still unclear about the use of the antivirals,” he said. “I must re-stress that not all confirmed [COVID-19] cases need to take the antivirals.” The antivirals are effective in people at higher risk of complications or severe illness and might not have similar effects in people with no such risks, he said. For people under the age of 65, Paxlovid should be prescribed within five days of the onset of symptoms. There are four eligibility criteria: being aged 12 or older; weighing at least 40kg; five days having passed since the onset of symptoms and no supplemental oxygen required; having an illness with mild to moderate symptoms; and having at least one of the 12 indicators of being at high risk of developing severe symptoms. The risk factors include cancer; diabetes; chronic kidney disease; cardiovascular disease (except hypertension); being pregnant or having given birth within six weeks; chronic lung diseases (interstitial lung disease, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); and tuberculosis. They also include chronic liver diseases (cirrhosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis); disabilities (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, congenital defects, developmental or learning disabilities and spinal injury); mental illness (emotional disturbance and schizophrenia); and dementia. Adults with a body mass
About 47 percent of people whose deaths were related to COVID-19 this year have died within three days of testing positive, while 33 percent died within three to seven days, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the center’s spokesman, said 66,247 new local cases, 36 imported cases and 40 deaths were confirmed yesterday. As the number of daily confirmed cases has dropped in the past four days, from 90,331 cases on Thursday last week to 66,247 cases yesterday, the center was asked if Taiwan has reached the peak of a wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Daily caseloads usually drop during the weekend, so the situation still needs to be observed, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said, adding that cases have not spiked in the past few days, indicating that the situation is being controlled well. He said 130 moderate cases and 43 severe cases were confirmed, and seven previously moderate cases became severe yesterday, adding that 740 severe cases, including 583 deaths, account for 0.06 percent of the local cases reported this year. “We have found that the standard we used for classifying severe cases might be a bit strict ... causing the rate to be relatively low,” so the center plans to discuss it with specialists, Chen said, adding that the standard for moderate cases is relatively clear, including treatment recommendations. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy chief of the CECC’s medical response division, said that among the deaths reported yesterday, two were children under the age of five. One was an eight-month-old who was unable to wake up from a nap at home, Lo said, adding that his family called 119 and took him to an
Taiwan’s bid to attend the WHO’s annual meeting of its decisionmaking body was rejected yesterday, the World Health Assembly (WHA) said, after a campaign of diplomatic pressure from China to isolate the nation. WHA President Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, who is also Djibouti’s health minister, said in a statement that a proposal sent by 13 WHO members seeking for Taiwan to join as an observer would not be included in its official agenda. Taiwan is excluded from most global groups due to Beijing’s objections. Taiwan says that its exclusion from the WHO has hampered efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, although it is allowed to attend some technical WHO meetings. Abdilleh said that the decision followed a recommendation from the general committee, which discussed the proposal on Sunday in a closed-door meeting. “The political and legal foundation for Taiwan’s participation in WHA ceases to exist,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Office at Geneva Chen Xu (陳旭) told the assembly shortly before the decision. “This political manipulation will only be met with opposition from all parties.” However, the UK and the US showed their support for Taiwan. US Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Loyce Pace, who is the US envoy to the assembly, said Taiwan has been a critical partner contributing constructively to global health and that the US “deeply regrets” its exclusion from attending the assembly as an observer. “There’s clearly no health crisis to justify not including Taiwan as an observer of the WHO,” British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid told the assembly. This year’s assembly, attended by thousands of delegates, including nearly 100 from China, is to discuss key reforms such as changes to the WHO’s funding. China began blocking Taiwan’s WHA participation from 2017, ending a warmer period of relations between Beijing and Taipei. Taiwan last week