A Taiwan-based flight academy has purchased two commuter aircraft from Europe with the aim of providing air tours over scenic mountain and ocean vistas over eastern Taiwan, the company founder told the Central News Agency yesterday. Wilson Kao (高健祐), founder and managing director of Apex Flight Academy, the nation’s only flight training school, said that two new Tecnam P2012 Travellers purchased from Italy are scheduled to arrive Taiwan this month or early next month. The company has applied to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to carry passengers on flight tours. The aircraft are expected to receive airworthiness certificates from the CAA next month or in November, paving the way to officially launch tour packages before the end of this year, Kao said. Similar air tours in eastern Taiwan have previously only been offered by light-sport aircraft, he added. Kao said that local tour operators approached the academy last year and proposed the idea for a more large-scale air sightseeing tour. After studying their proposal, Apex decided to expand its business to include commercial air tours. Kao said that he believes it could become a popular option with domestic and international travelers for experiencing Taiwan’s unique beauty. The company is planning to offer guided tours, for a maximum of nine passengers, covering mountain ranges and the Hualien and Taitung coasts for 30 to 60 minutes per flight, Kao said. Apex is to make public more details of the air tour packages and costs after the airplanes receive certification from CAA, he added. Apex Flight Academy, based in eastern Taitung County, is a flight training organization that began in 2014. It is the first and only Taiwan CAA-certified flight-training organization.
Taiwan is to begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine to high-school students on Wednesday, and the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has advised that strenuous exercise be avoided for two weeks after innoculation. Recipients should watch for symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle and outer lining of the heart respectively — within 28 days of the BNT vaccination, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said on Sunday. Symptoms include pain, pressure or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart, fainting and a lower tolerance for exercise, Chen said. People who experience such symptoms should seek prompt medical attention and tell doctors when they were vaccinated. Concerns over the side effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as the BNT vaccine, were raised after reports that some young adults developed heart problems after getting the jabs. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that the risk of myocarditis is 18.5 cases per 1 million second doses of the BNT vaccine in people aged 18 to 24, considered to be the group most at risk. The BNT vaccine is still the only COVID-19 vaccine that was demonstrated by phase 3 trials to be effective and safe for participants aged as young as 12. The BNT vaccine has been authorized for use in Taiwan for people aged 12 years or older. Taiwan is scheduled to begin administering the vaccine on Wednesday, with people aged 12 to 17 first in priority. Students at junior or senior high-schools have the choice of receiving the vaccine either at their school or a hospital. The health department in each municipality is to arrange vaccine clinics on school campuses for students. Those who opt not to take the vaccine at school can make other arrangements
One New Taipei City restaurant’s generous 12-year tradition of offering free meals to those in need was almost derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, until donors raised NT$200,000 to save it. Chen Chin-hsing (陳進興), owner of A-hsing Braised Pork Rice (阿興魯肉飯) in Jhonghe District (中和), began the practice in 2009 after enduring a period of hunger himself. As a young man, Chen put everything he had into a business that failed, leaving him destitute and without food to eat most days, he said. After getting back on his feet, Chen opened the restaurant and began offering free meals to help others in similarly dire straits. It was mostly the homeless and older people who lived alone who would come in for complimentary meals, he said. As the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, more people began coming in looking for a warm meal after seeing their incomes slashed, he added. The number skyrocketed when level 3 restrictions were implemented in May, Chen said. Where he would once feed 80 to 90 people for free each day, in addition to more than 200 customers, now the numbers are flipped, with only 80 to 90 customers for every 200 free meals, leaving the business without enough income to keep operating, he said. However, others took notice. Members of the public raised NT$100,000 to help Chen through this difficult time, with a matching donation promised by New Taipei City Councilor Yeh Yuan-chih (葉元之). Although the restaurant is in Jhonghe District, it has a “strong social impact,” with people coming from all over the city in search of a warm meal, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilor said. Chen also makes efforts to understand the hardships these people are facing, even going so far as to match people with organizations that are able to help, Yeh said. As an example, Chen recently matched people with
Pet shop owners are to be required to register transactions online to make the origin of animals more transparent and assist the authorities in preventing pet smuggling, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. The decision was made after the authorities on Aug. 21 put down 154 smuggled cats because they might have carried disease, posing a risk to the health of pets and livestock in Taiwan. Police later arrested a suspect surnamed Lin (林) who owns an animal breeding facility in Kaohsiung and is believed to be behind the smuggling attempt. Lin is being detained on suspicion of contravening the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases (動物傳染病防治條例). Existing laws require pet shop owners to register the origin of each pet they sell, as well as the buyer’s information, but they are not required to digitize the data, meaning they could choose to record the information on paper only, the COA said. This makes it difficult for authorities to conduct regular checks on pet sales and creates loopholes, COA official Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全) said. To prevent smuggling, Chiang said that the COA would require the roughly 2,000 pet shop operators in Taiwan to register transactions online, while increasing checks on the transactions. The online system is expected to be completed by the end of this year before it officially goes online early next year, Chiang said. The COA and lawmakers previously said they would increase penalties for animal smuggling. The Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) imposes fines of NT$40,000 to NT$200,000 to breeders or traders selling pets without permits, or trading such animals to a third party without microchipping the animals.
ADJUST BREATHING PATTERNS: Get back to your workouts gradually over three weeks, take breaks and change your mask every 30 minutes, trainers advised
While exercising with a face mask on, it is best to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, and build up workout intensity incrementally over a three-week period, a trainer said on Saturday. Masks should also be changed every 30 minutes, as moisture becomes trapped inside the mask during a workout, Olympic badminton team coach Lo Yo-wei (羅友威) said. Masks have been required since the Central Epidemic Command Center raised the COVID-19 alert to level 3 in May. Despite masks being required indoors at public venues, some people remain unsure of how to safely wear them during exercise, Lo said. “More moisture enters your nasal cavity during exercise, so you need to adjust your pace and intensity. If not, you could become anaerobic or start to hyperventilate,” he said. It is also advised to rest more between sets when doing resistance exercises, and to take a short break between exercising different muscle groups, he said. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth can increase the respiratory exchange ratio, Lo said, adding that breathing in such a manner requires practice at first. “If you’re playing ball sports, it is harder to focus on your breathing, so in that case you may need more time to adjust,” he said. A period of two to three weeks might be required for someone who exercises two to three times per week to adjust their breathing pattern, he said. Meanwhile, weight trainer Lu Yu-wen (盧裕文) said that those returning to the gym after an extended absence should start with lighter weights to adjust. “When you’ve been stuck indoors for a long time, your body adapts to that sedentary lifestyle, and your body strength naturally declines,” he said. “Many people overestimate themselves when returning to the gym and they find themselves injured.”
CONCRETE STEPS URGED: Promoting fruits whose imports are banned by China and offering aid to farmers are only temporary remedies, the NPP said, urging a policy shift
The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday threw its support behind the government’s decision to settle agricultural disputes with China through the WTO mechanism, after Beijing on Sunday suspended wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to alleged pest concerns. “Beijing chose to announce the import ban during the Mid-Autumn Festival long weekend and the timing of the thinly veiled threat showed China’s malicious intent. We severely condemn Beijing for the move and believe that cross-strait agricultural disputes should be settled through the WTO mechanism,” the party said in a statement. When Beijing barred pineapple imports from Taiwan in March, the NPP said it warned the government that wax apples and custard apples could be next, and that it should prepare in advance by diversifying the exports of agricultural products. The government did not respond to its appeal, the party said. Taiwan became the 144th member of the WTO in 2002 under the title of “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu,” the NPP said, adding that Taiwan and China have an equal footing in the organization. The Chinese government should follow WTO standards and procedures to inspect Taiwanese agricultural products, rather than unilaterally banning fruit imports from Taiwan without submitting any scientific evidence, the party said. The WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures stipulates that “members shall ensure that their sanitary and phytosanitary measures do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between members where identical or similar conditions prevail, including between their own territory and that of other members,” the NPP said. The measures “shall not be applied in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on international trade,” the party said, citing the agreement. The agreement also requires members to “take into account the objective of minimizing negative trade effects when determining the appropriate level of sanitary
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday recalled the lifelong struggles of author and “Taiwanese revolutionary leader” Su Beng (史明), who advocated for Taiwanese nationalism, at the opening ceremony of a museum dedicated to Su in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊). Tsai was accompanied by Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) and Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得) at the opening of the Su Beng Museum. The ceremony coincided with the second anniversary of Su’s passing at the age of 100. Tsai thanked the people who helped create the museum, saying that it would help more Taiwanese learn about Su, and encourage them to reflect on Taiwan and the international situation. Exhibits at the museum feature Su’s belongings, including handwritten manuscripts, published papers and personal items, which officials said are an important heritage for the nation, as he had been exiled for more than four decades due to his efforts to overthrow the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime. Tsai said she counts herself lucky to have personally met Su in his later years, adding: “I very much cherish my brief encounter with him; it was a moving experience for me.” Tsai said that during their meeting she carefully listened to Su’s every word, but sometimes could not fully grasp what he meant. “He mostly spoke in Hoklo [commonly known as Taiwanese], sometimes switching to Japanese and English. Then thinking that I might not understand, he also spoke in Mandarin Chinese,” Tsai said. “I was quite aware of his feeling of urgency and the earnest seriousness that he wanted to remind me of important issues,” she said. “I could feel that he had great expectations, with a great passion and an optimistic outlook for Taiwan’s future.” During the ceremony, Tsai also commented on China’s decision to ban imports of wax apples and custard apples from Taiwan. “Our government
Total trade value at the nation’s free-trade zones is expected to top NT$1 trillion (US$36 billion) this year thanks to rising prices of components associated with chips, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said last week. The nation has seven free-trade zones in the ports of Keelung, Suao, Taipei, Taichung, Anping and Kaohsiung, and at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Since the ministry began administering the free-trade zones in 2009, trade value at the zones has been growing at an average rate of 18 percent annually, Department of Aviation and Navigation Deputy Director-General Han Chen-hua (韓振華) told a news conference. Trade volume has also been growing at about 16 percent annually, he said. Trade value at the zones from January to July totaled NT$679.8 billion, up 38.5 percent from the same period last year. “Trade value last year and in 2019 was about NT$900 billion. Should trade value continue to grow at the current rate, it could potentially surpass NT$1 trillion, which would be a historic high,” Han said, adding that the performance is remarkable given that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted global supply chains, and led to labor and container shortages. Trade value was mainly generated by the free-trade zone at the airport which houses electronic component manufacturers, the department said. The airport free-trade zone generated trade value of NT$484.1 billion from January to July, as robust demand for computer chips led to overall price increases in electronic components, it said. The re-exportation of components used in the auto industry and petrochemical products also rose in the free-trade zones near the seaports, with trade value totaling NT$195.8 billion between January and July, department data showed. New infrastructure would be built at the free-trade zones in view of new business opportunities created by changes to global supply chains, the department said. Farglory
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts, mainly in Switzerland, as well as in accounts owned by his family in banks in about a dozen countries and territories, Ministry of Justice officials have said. Leus was likewise accused of money laundering and made a donation of ￡500,000 to the foundation. His conviction was overturned. Prince Charles “met at least nine times” with William Bortrick, the alleged fixer at the heart of the claims, who is said to have received thousands of pounds to secure an honor for a Saudi Arabian billionaire and brokered a personal thank you letter from Charles to a Russian donor, the Sunday Times reported. The Russian banker reportedly received two invitations to private events at Charles’ royal residences in Scotland, allegedly secured by Bortrick. They were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about the donor’s past. In the summer last year, Charles, 72, and Bortrick, 48, met at the Castle of Mey, the late queen mother’s former home in Caithness, the newspaper reported. Weeks before the meeting, Bortrick had brokered a six-figure donation to the charity from Leus in exchange for a meeting with the prince, the newspaper reported. He received a ￡5,000 cut of the donation for “expenses,” it reported. A spokesperson for Bruno Wang, who
‘PERSONALITY CULT’: The removal of past authoritarian symbols has been enshrined in law, but the government has been dragging its feet, a victims’ association said
Efforts must be made to remove the statues of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and stop the worship of a dictator responsible for the deaths of many Taiwanese, a group of White Terror era victims said yesterday. The group opposed a proposal to place an iron cage over Chiang’s bronze statue at Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The Transitional Justice Commission should push ahead with its plan to take down the 6.3m statue and move it to the Cihu Mausoleum in Taoyuan’s Dasi District (大溪), former political prisoner Tsai Kuan-yu (蔡寬裕) said. “This has been enshrined in law, so the government must remove all symbols of authoritarianism that are still in place,” said Tsai, the honorary chairman of the Taiwan Association for the Care of the Victims of Political Persecution During the Martial Law Period. Tsai, now in his 80s, was targeted by the KMT’s persecution of dissidents and civil liberty advocates. He was imprisoned twice from the 1960s to the 1970s, spending a total of 13 years in prison. Article 5 of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), passed by the legislature in 2017, stipulates that “symbols appearing in public buildings or places that commemorate or express nostalgia for authoritarian rulers shall be removed, renamed, or dealt with in some other way,” Tsai said. “We have pressed the demand to remake Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as part of the transitional justice process and get rid of the statue. Such a move has basis in the law and therefore should be implemented soon, but we only see inaction and more delays,” he said. Several consultation meetings were held over the past two months with officials from the Ministry of Culture department that manages the memorial hall, and several rounds of discussions were held with commission officials, Tsai said. “Our organization and other groups representing the victims
Cable service subscribers are soon to be given at least three days to review their contracts with cable system operators before signing them, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said. The NCC on Thursday last week approved proposed amendments to the terms of the standardized contract for cable service subscriptions after having allowed the public and key stakeholders comment on them since May 26. The amendments would be submitted to the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee, which would approve them before making them public, NCC Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said. The commission amended the terms of the contract, which was implemented on Sept. 17 last year, to enhance cable service quality and better protect consumers in view of rapid changes to the market brought by the digitization of cable television, he said. Wong said the commission approved four key amendments. Cable service subscribers would be given at least three days to review their contracts before signing them, he said, adding that this is a newly added requirement. A similar clause is stipulated in the mobile phone service contract, which allows subscribers to review their contracts for seven days, Wong said. Cable operators that use tiered pricing schemes must clearly list all basic channel packages available to subscribers and their respective prices in the contracts, he said. If cable operators fail to offer subscribers the same number of basic channels as promised in the contract, they should reduce subscription fees or offer other forms of compensation, Wong said. “In the past, we allowed cable operators to charge full monthly fees if they maintained broadcast of at least 95 percent of the channels in the package, but the amendment would require them to either add another channel to the package or reduce monthly fees if they lose just one channel,” Wong said. Cable operators were required to take
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time it was “announced today and banned tomorrow,” intentionally planned for the Mid-Autumn Festival to throw the government into chaos and prevent farmers from enjoying the holiday, the official said. Beijing’s use of “cruel and crass means to target the most vulnerable” disproves its promise of beneficial integration, the official said, adding that it is obvious retaliation for recent improvements in Taiwan-US relations. Beijing always waits until Taiwanese crops are about to be in season to unilaterally announce that it has intercepted some sort of pest, using farmers as the scapegoat, DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said. It is clearly a political attempt to suppress the development of Taiwanese agriculture, he said, decrying Beijing’s “disgraceful” tactic of using agriculture to subjugate the government and businesses to promote unification. Chuang said he has already urged the government to take immediate countermeasures, including reducing the nation’s reliance on one market. He also called on the public to use their pocketbooks to support local farmers. DPP Legislator Wang Mei-hui (王美惠) also called foul, saying that China does not restrict other nations’ fruit imports. The timing is especially suspicious, considering reports earlier this month that US lawmakers have called for renaming Taiwan’s Washington representative office to include the name “Taiwan,” she added. Meanwhile,
WIDER NOTION NEEDED: Victory means preventing the enemy from imposing its political will, former chief of the general staff admiral Lee Hsi-ming said
The military should redefine its understanding of victory, which under the current circumstances is not so much winning battles, but preventing the enemy from occupying the nation, former chief of the general staff admiral Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) said. The former deputy minister of national defense made the remarks at a seminar hosted by the Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology in Taipei on Friday. The event was titled: “Challenges for the Taiwanese military’s relationship with society under the overall defense concept.” Lee said that last month’s events in Afghanistan had proven that the US had been unable to control the country, despite having won every major battle of the 20-year war. In light of the US’ defeat in Afghanistan, the military should understand that victory means preventing the enemy from imposing its political will on the nation, he said. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has repeatedly said that the so-called “reunification” with Taiwan is crucial to his ambition of a glorious national revival, he added. This means that Xi might start a cross-strait war in reaction to internal pressure or as a means to “secure his place in history,” Lee said. Taiwan should ready itself to counter a Chinese aggression and boost its military strength to deter China from attacking, Lee said. Should China make an attempt to force unification, Taiwan needs a military that is strong enough to fight off the attack, he said. However, as China’s annual military spending is about US$200 billion — compared with Taiwan’s NT$12 billion (US$432.7 million) — and its naval forces have overtaken the US in strength, deterring or defending against an attack might not be possible, he said. Therefore, the government’s focus on acquiring advanced jets and warships is unwise, he said. Foreign defense experts assume that a Chinese attack with standoff missiles would destroy most of the military’s aircraft and ships, or
Efforts to improve Kaohsiung’s transportation infrastructure and other measures to retain local talent have drawn significant investment to the city over the past few years, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said on Friday. “The year since I took office has been a race against time, but we have managed to draw lots of investors into the city,” he said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper). During his time in office, state-run refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan started to process oil from Chad at its Kaohsiung facility and the newly opened Ciaotou Science Park has spurred interest from more than 20 manufacturers, Chen said, adding that the city has been receiving feedback from those businesses on issues to solve. Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc, Brogent Technologies Inc, Daxin Materials Corp and Huang Liang Technologies Co were among the manufacturers that opened facilities in the park, he said. The Renwu Industrial Park in the city’s Renwu District (仁武) this year held an investors meeting that more than 300 businesses attended, he said, adding that as of July 15, the park had received lease applications from 60 businesses. Meanwhile, four office buildings under construction in the city’s Asia New Bay Area (亞洲新灣區) are to offer more than 1,000 ping (3,305.8m2) floor space, he said. Thirteen companies have thus far signed leases, he said, adding that most of them focus on Internet of Things and 5G applications. “We want these companies to be happy, but at the same time, we also want talented people to stay in the city, so we are constantly upgrading transportation networks that link people’s workplaces and lifestyle places,” he said. Citing an example, Chen said that there are four stations of the KMRT metro rail system covering metropolitan Kaohsiung near the CPC plant. The plant is two stops from
Taiwan is looking to deepen its trade relations with Lithuania, particularly in the fields of agriculture and technology, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council said on Wednesday. Following an online meeting of representatives from both nations, council chairman James Huang (黃志芳) said that the two sides are hoping to increase their mutual trade volume and the diversity of traded goods. Lithuania has a competitive agricultural industry, and is known for food products and beverages such as chocolate and beer, he said. It also has strong laser technology and financial technology sectors, he added. The council, which hosted the meeting, would continue promoting high-quality foods from Lithuania, as the two sides seek to expand bilateral trade of agricultural products, he said. About 60 matchmaking discussions between 24 Lithuanian food companies and their Taiwanese counterparts were held during the meeting, Huang said. The Taiwanese participants, including representatives from retailers PX Mart and Carrefour, said that they would consider importing Lithuanian chocolate and alcoholic beverages. Lithuania’s exports of agricultural and food products to Taiwan totaled about US$20 million (US$721,085) last year, Huang said. Its imports of Taiwanese machinery and information technology products totaled NT$75 million, he added. “I am confident that not just agricultural products, but also the overall volume and value of Taiwan’s imports [from Lithuania] will grow,” Huang said. National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) is scheduled to lead a trade delegation to Lithuania next month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said. Relations between Taiwan and Lithuania have been growing since the Baltic state donated 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan earlier this year. The two countries are also planning to set up representative offices in each others capital later this year.
The National Central Library in Taipei on Saturday opened a special exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the Center for Chinese Studies. Titled “Making Sinology a sparkling asset — The 40 years endeavors of the Center for Chinese Studies,” the exhibition showcases the center’s work over the past four decades in the areas of academic research and international exchange. The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 7, also spotlights the center’s progress in digitizing Sinology archives. Fuounded in September 1981 by the Ministry of Education, the center provides assistance to institutes abroad that offer Chinese studies. Library director-general Tseng Shu-hsien (曾淑賢) said that aside from continuing to make breakthroughs in Sinology, the center also focuses on educating foreign Sinologists. Tseng said that 511 researchers from 48 countries had received scholarships to conduct studies at the center. Tseng said that the exhibition also commemorates the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies, which the library in 2012 launched to promote “Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics” through the publication of academic research in Sinology by Taiwanese academics. Thirty-seven resource center branches have since opened worldwide, Tseng added. Before the resource center was launched, the government had started to promote Taiwanese efforts in the field by establishing Taiwan Academy branches in cities worldwide, Tseng said. The library joined the government’s efforts and opened exchange platforms at academy branches in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, Tseng said.
GUIDELINES UNCLEAR: Taipei’s Dianthus MFM Clinic would be fined for conducting antibody testing and charging people without approval from the city government
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is to convene a meeting on Wednesday to specify guidelines for out-of-pocket antibody testing, following controversy over an Internet celebrity receiving a test even though it was unavailable for general purchase. Two weeks after receiving his first dose of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Co’s COVID-19 vaccine, Internet celebrity Liu Yu (劉宇) on Sept. 7 received an antibody test at Taipei’s Dianthus MFM Clinic for NT$1,000, he said on Facebook. He shared his results the day after, saying that his immunoglobulin G (IgG) level of 35.4 arbitrary units per milliliter (AU/ml) showed that he “developed antibodies, but the value is on the low side.” However, the CECC had not yet made antibody tests available for purchase, eliciting calls to change the policy. Some have also suggested that antibody test results could help the public decide whether to receive a third vaccine dose. At the moment, 12 clinics are certified to administer publicly funded antibody tests, but out-of-pocket testing is not yet permitted. If a medical institution wishes to offer paid tests, it is required to first apply with its local health bureau. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said on Saturday that it would be difficult to use self-paid antibody testing to determine the advisability of receiving a third vaccine dose. Guidelines for administering third doses would be decided based on the center’s studies, as well as other countries’ experiences and expert advice, he added. As for whether to allow out-of-pocket antibody testing, Chen said the center would not object to eligible recipients receiving the test, but the law and medical procedures must be followed. The CECC is to convene a meeting of its medical response division on Wednesday to prepare guidelines, he added. The guidelines to be discussed include standards for fees and testing methods, said Centers for Disease
People who have received a first dose of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Co’s COVID-19 vaccine would be able to receive their second shot from Monday to Saturday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Saturday. It also said government-funded influenza vaccinations would begin on Friday next week. The beginning of Medigen’s second-dose vaccination program was moved forward from the original starting date of Friday next week at the request of several local governments, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, without elaborating. The government is also to administer another 910,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Saturday to Saturday next week. Vaccination would cover people aged 18 to 22, those aged 65 or older and people aged 40 or older with high-risk health conditions. The first batch of 932,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses received early this month is expected to be administered to children aged 12 to 17 starting on Wednesday. As for the flu vaccination program, Chen said the government would provide 6.32 million shots to Taiwanese citizens and legal residents. Students in elementary, junior-high and high school are to receive their government-funded flu shots at school, while other members of the public can get vaccinated at designated hospitals. People should wait at least seven days between receiving their seasonal flu shot and a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to make it easier to monitor side effects, Chen said. In related news, Chen said convenience stores and supermarkets would no longer sell locally made masks through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system after next month. The last round of online preorders for collection at convenience stores and supermarkets would run from Monday next week to Oct. 6, the CECC said, as demand for masks through that channel has dropped sharply over the past few months. The sale of masks
Porous sidewalks installed in Taipei last year have been found to reduce surface temperatures by up to 3°C in addition to absorbing excessive runoff, researchers said on Thursday. The Taipei City Government has been experimenting with new building materials since launching a “sponge city” initiative in 2015 to improve drainage and flood controls in the capital. Seeking to reduce runoff along Zhongxiao E Road, which is prone to flooding, the city replaced its asphalt and concrete sidewalks with a more porous material. To test the effectiveness of the renovation completed late last year, researchers from the National Taipei University of Technology’s Water Environment Research Center installed a sensor in front of Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station Exit 4 to monitor how much water was absorbed by the pavement. They discovered that the material was not only effective at reducing runoff, but also had a lower temperature than other types of pavement. Data gathered from March 9 to Aug. 31 showed that the sidewalk can reduce runoff by 13.8 to 63.4 percent, or about 40 percent on average, compared with traditional materials, the center said. Its surface temperature was on average 2.5°C cooler than asphalt, center director Lin Jen-yang (林鎮洋) said. The highest difference in temperature was recorded on July 26, when the porous surface was 3°C cooler than asphalt amid an atmospheric temperature of 37.4°C, Lin added. The material can absorb more water because its porous structure allows runoff to seep into the ground instead of accumulating on top, he said. In sunny weather, water evaporating from within the porous pavement helps cool down the surface and the air above it, he added. “You can think of it like a sponge absorbing water,” Lin said. “The less runoff there is, the better the pavement is at absorbing rainwater.” University president Wang Hsi-fu (王錫福) praised the renovation, saying that the wider sidewalks provide
A Belgian priest has been awarded a Plum Blossom Card for his service and contributions in Hsinchu County over the past 26 years, the National Immigration Agency said in a statement yesterday. Father Joseph Emile Corneille Hermans, who came to Taiwan when he was 30 years old and has since been engaged in missionary work in Aboriginal villages in the county, received the special version of the Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) given to foreign nationals who have made special contributions to Taiwan. Hermans tirelessly traveled between Jhudong Township (竹東) and communities such as Hsiujuan (秀巒) and Tianpu (田埔) villages in the mountainous Jianshi Township (尖石) to promote social welfare for retirement homes, correctional facilities and underprivileged households, the agency said. The agency cited Hermans as saying that Taiwan is his home, and that he often feels he loves this land more than even some Taiwanese do. Receiving the Plum Blossom card ahead of the family-oriented Mid-Autumn Festival was a meaningful form of recognition, he was cited as saying. Many families in the villages need social support and attention, Hermans said, but while non-governmental organizations provide financial support, the responsibility of a priest is to visit and listen to people, and offer them spiritual support and religious blessings. Hermans has also helped Aboriginal children. Seeing that children in the villages often lacked education resources, usually due to family issues or financial difficulties, he organized after-school programs, summer and winter camps, and community services to help them, the agency said. Huang Ching-chin (黃清欽), the director of the agency’s office in the county, said Hermans qualified for the Plum Blossom Card due to his selfless missionary work in the county and social contributions to rural neighborhoods and Aboriginal villages. In Hermans’ case, the Plum Blossom Card serves both as an APRC and an acknowledgement of his contributions, Huang said. Plum Blossom Cards