Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) should repeal a program to issue rewards for positive COVID-19 tests among people who return to their former home from northern Taiwan over the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights said yesterday.
Huang’s “authoritarian behavior” is unacceptable, the association said after he announced that people should notify the Tainan Public Health Bureau of people who travel to Tainan to visit relatives from Saturday to Monday next week and urge them to get tested for the virus.
People would receive NT$1,000 if they submit a report that leads to a positive COVID-19 rapid screening test and NT$10,000 if a polymerase chain reaction test returns positive, the rules say.
The measure is intended to encourage people to get tested and is “not a witch hunt, nor are there any witches to hunt,” Huang said.
Residents in southern Taiwan are deeply concerned that large numbers of people would travel to the area over the holiday to visit relatives, putting them at risk of infection, he said.
“After we weighed the pros and cons, this is what we decided,” he said.
The association said that Taiwan’s previous success in handling COVID-19 was because it is a mature civil society with a government that could be held accountable.
Government transparency and respect for personal information is why there was a degree of mutual trust with the public, which helped keep the pandemic at bay, the association said.
“Exiting the level 3 alert and getting back to normal depends on that trust, accountability and transparency continuing,” it said. “Conversely, fear mongering and witch hunts would only exacerbate the situation.”
Offering rewards to take tests goes against the popular will of people in Tainan, it said, adding that the mayor should be more practical.
“The target of this policy seems to be those who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19, not those who have already tested positive and refuse to follow pandemic response measures,” the association said.
However, Huang’s comments confused the two groups and made it seem that all visitors to Tainan will be a latent threat and infected people should be fined, it said, adding that such an approach would not benefit pandemic measures.
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