President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a press conference on Jan. 22, 2020. (CNA)
By Mimi Hsin Hsuan Sun, The China Post
TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged Taiwan public to stay calm in the midst of the SARS-like virus outbreak on Wednesday, and called upon Beijing to exercise due diligence in information transparency on Wednesday morning, as both countries head to Chinese New Year vacations tomorrow.
In an address to the nation delivered at the Presidential Office, Tsai reassured local residents that there is sufficient storage of face masks, no need to stockpile, and that the government will distribute them when the situation calls for it.
Taiwanese and Chinese travel extensively during Chinese New Year vacations as it is tradition that families reunite and celebrate together. It has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. Concerns arouse that this mass movement will exacerbate the spreading of the disease.
Cancellation of Incoming Tours from Wuhan
Regarding tour groups between Taiwan and Wuhan, the origin of the novel pneumonia outbreak in China, Tsai said that the transport ministry is working to cancel all ten incoming tour groups, which would have brought approximately 178 visitors from Wuhan.
The tourism bureau has asked agencies to terminate all outbound Taiwanese tour groups to Wuhan.
In her statement, Tsai called upon her Beijing counterparts to be transparent with the situation of the epidemic, saying that “political concerns should not surpass people’s safety.”
China’s National Health Commission reported a total of nine deaths and 440 confirmed cases as of Jan. 21.
Taiwan’s Transportation and Communications Minister Lin, Chia-Lung (林佳龍) said that the ministry is still considering temporarily shutting down all flights between Taiwan and Wuhan.
First Confirmed Case in Taiwan
The announcement came after Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed last night that a Taiwanese citizen has been infected with the SARS-like virus, also known as 2019-nCoV.
The patient arrived at Taoyuan International Airport from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the origin of the novel pneumonia outbreak. Per the CDC, the patient is under quarantine and no longer has a fever.
Tsai added Wednesday morning that passengers and the crew who were on the same flight are being closely monitored for 14 days.
SARS, officially known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) claimed 73 Taiwanese lives in 2003. More than 400 people were infected.