Taiwan defends health minister amid rising COVID cases By Reuters
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang defended the island’s health minister on Tuesday amid a rare increase in domestic COVID-19 infections, claiming that despite being a reborn god on earth, he could not protect himself against all eventualities.
Taiwan has controlled the pandemic well thanks to early and effective prevention, in particular by largely closing its borders. Most of its 1,145 cases to date have been imported from overseas, although Taiwan has reported sporadic domestic infections. Since last month, Taiwan has faced a cluster of 26 infections so far linked to a hotel at the island’s main international airport in Taoyuan outside Taipei, with pilots, hotel workers and affected family members.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung has come under fire, including from the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, for a range of issues that could have made the outbreak worse, including failing to not wear face masks and allow Taiwanese and foreign pilots to mix in one hotel.
Su told reporters that despite the government’s strict measures, including recording the names of people entering public places to help with contact tracing, not everyone followed the rules and it was impossible to be everywhere at once to ensure that regulations are followed.
“A single Chen Shih-chung, even if he was a reborn god, could not do it, and there is no way to see if every place has no violations” in the rules, Su added. .
The government is looking into procedures that can be tightened up, Su said, highlighting Monday’s decision to bar entry to people who were in severely affected India.
The total number of cases in Taiwan remains extremely low compared to many other countries, with only 75 people treated in hospital. He reported 12 deaths.
Taiwanese stocks have plummeted since the start of the week, in part on concerns over domestic affairs, which were down more than 3% on Tuesday morning.
The hotel at the center of the outbreak was evacuated last week and is undergoing a thorough cleaning while those staying there have been moved to centralized quarantine centers for testing.
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