Hou Yu-ih confirms no toxic chemicals in air after fire
New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih assures public safety following a warehouse fire in Shenkeng District. Air quality tests show no hydrogen fluoride or heavy metals. Environmental agencies monitor PM2.5, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide levels. Safety measures include avoiding the area, keeping doors and windows shut, wearing masks, and seeking medical advice if needed. Shenkeng District’s Health Center prepares for potential medical demands, while hospitals provide emergency treatment and care for respiratory symptoms. The city government continues to oversee air and water quality examinations to ensure public safety.
Tainan City confronts first dengue fever case of the year
Tainan City reports its first imported case of dengue fever from Indonesia, prompting preventative measures by the Tainan City Public Health Bureau. Learn about the symptoms and prevention of this mosquito-borne disease.
Taiwan reports first domestic measles case of 2024
Taiwan reports its first domestic measles case of 2024, with a man in his 30s testing positive in the Northern part of the country. The Centers for Disease Control are investigating possible sources of infection and monitoring 199 individuals who had contact with the patient. Vaccination is urged, especially for infants older than one year.
Wang Cheng-hsu takes oath as Taiwan’s new legislator
Wang Cheng-hsu, successor to former Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, was sworn in as a legislator in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, pledging to enhance public health. Wang, a healthcare expert, aims to fulfill President-elect Lai Ching-te’s vision for better health care. His appointment was celebrated by former Legislator Chiu Tai-yuan, who believes Wang’s expertise will benefit Taiwan’s medical community.
Taiwan clears domestic pork of Cimbuterol contamination
Taiwan’s Executive Yuan has announced that no detection of Cimbuterol, a feed additive used to promote leanness in animals, has been found in domestically-produced pork. This preliminary result dismisses concerns about the domestic pork supply being tainted with the substance. In the past, Taiwan Sugar Corporation’s pork slices were found to contain Cimbuterol, causing public concern. The Ministry of Agriculture has inspected 633 pre-market samples, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare has tested 73 post-market samples, with only one sample in Taichung city detecting Cimbuterol. The Health Ministry will strengthen random inspections for ractopamine in pork products and increase the number of annual inspections. The government will also enhance scrutiny of Cimbuterol imports and establish an expert group to assess the risk source at each link. The administration remains committed to ensuring the sanitary safety of pork products and monitoring related residues in various channels. Relevant authorities are dedicated to meeting Taiwan’s veterinary drug residue limits in foods.
Officials clash over publicizing contaminated pork findings
Taipei’s Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare questions Taichung City’s decision to publicly announce the presence of Cimbuterol in local pork produce, insisting on a thorough investigation before disclosure. Taichung City’s Office of Food and Drug Safety found the banned substance in frozen pork slices produced by TaiSugar. The city health bureau defended the immediate announcement, citing the need to protect consumers and citizens’ health interests. The Executive Yuan expressed doubts about the test results, citing unusually low levels of Cimbuterol detected and suggesting further investigations. Taichung City’s Office of Food and Drug Safety informed Pingtung County’s Public Health Bureau and Tainan’s Public Health Bureau for further investigation. Organizations like the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee and the Consumers’ Foundation tend to directly announce results when adulterated products are found, justifying Taichung’s disclosure. The office conducted three tests using two methodologies, with one result exceeding the quantitative limit. Only TaiSugar’s product tested positive for Cimbuterol. TaiSugar has called for a re-examination of the test results and sent the sample to the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Food and Drug Administration for reinspection.
VP-elect Hsiao Bi-khim diagnosed with COVID-19 again
DPP Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time. She underwent rapid testing in Miaoli due to congestion symptoms, which confirmed her infection. Despite her diagnosis, Hsiao diligently followed the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s guidelines, wearing a double mask and avoiding contact with others. She completed two events in Miaoli under these conditions but had to cancel subsequent activities to protect the public. Hsiao expressed regret to her supporters for not being able to interact with them and informed President-elect Lai Ching-te about her diagnosis.
Taiwan braces for dual outbreak ahead of Lunar New Year
A surge in respiratory illnesses, including influenza and COVID-19, has overwhelmed emergency departments in Taipei. Pulmonologist Su I-feng warns the public to closely monitor their health due to the widespread COVID-19 outbreak. The Taiwan CDC predicts a peak in flu and COVID-19 cases before the Lunar New Year. Concerns arise about a possible shortage of medical staff during this period, particularly in the emergency system. Hsieh Tsung-hsueh, director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, has already deployed staff to prepare for a potential massive influenza outbreak.
Taiwan announces budget surplus for 7th straight year
Taipei’s Executive Yuan Spokesperson, Lin Tze-luen, announced a budget surplus for the 2023 fiscal year, attributing the achievement to the combined efforts of civil society and the government. The surplus will be allocated responsibly to maintain fiscal discipline, primarily focusing on debt reduction and infrastructure investment. Taiwan’s economy has experienced consistent growth, resulting in a budget surplus for seven consecutive years. In 2022, the surplus reached an impressive NT$500 billion, leading to a proposed special budget of NT$380 billion. This special budget aims to enhance economic and social resilience, with provisions such as a cash payment of NT$6,000 per citizen, support for labor and health insurance programs, and assistance for Taiwan Power Company. Additionally, the special budget includes programs to aid residential loan holders from the middle class and below. Lin emphasized the government’s commitment to considering public opinion and promoting national affairs to facilitate Taiwan’s sustainable development.
Premier vows precision in tackling TikTok misinformation
The Taiwanese government, led by Premier Chen Chien-jen, has emphasized its commitment to handling issues with the social media platform TikTok with precision. The government aims to address potential misinformation on social platforms to enhance public literacy and has warned of legal sanctions for spreading false information. The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau recently established a Cognitive Warfare Research Center, which has raised concerns about potential infringements on freedom of speech. Chen highlighted the use of TikTok in advancing cognitive warfare efforts in some countries and the need for stricter government scrutiny. Taiwan has already banned the use of TikTok in government sectors since 2020. Chen argued that autocratic nations often exploit democratic societies’ free speech to influence elections through social media. He reiterated Taiwan’s status as a free and democratic country ruled by law, emphasizing the government’s responsibility to protect freedom of speech. Chen also highlighted the threats posed by spreading false or misinformation to reputation, health, privacy, societal stability, and national security. He called on democracies worldwide to approach this issue with caution.
Giant panda Yuan Zai passes health check with flying colors
Yuan Zai, the beloved giant panda, has been deemed to be in good health after undergoing a comprehensive medical examination at the Taipei Zoo. The examination, conducted by a team of experts in anesthesiology, dentistry, and radiology, included various tests such as ophthalmology, hematology, and a full-body CT scan. Results showed that Yuan Zai is normal and weighs 114 kilograms. However, zoo officials have highlighted the need for caution regarding her previously broken incisor, which has undergone a root canal treatment. Despite some loss of filling material, the root of the incisor remains healthy. The zoo has also announced plans for a health check for another giant panda, Yuan Bao, in February. As a reminder, the public, particularly panda enthusiasts, are encouraged to prioritize their own health checks and regular dental visits.
KMT vows to uphold legislative integrity
The Kuomintang (KMT) responds to proposals from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) regarding future operations in the new legislature, promising to respect the opinions of the Legislative Yuan party groups. As the majority in parliament, the KMT pledges to provide vigorous oversight and advance the issues agreed upon in the cross-party meeting with the TPP on October 30th last year. Agreed matters include peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, resumption of cross-strait dialogue, environmental sustainability, national security, public health, and strengthening the legislature’s function under the existing constitutional system. The KMT emphasizes its unchanged vision for Taiwan’s future development. Additionally, they plan to scrutinize issues such as the controversy over the purchase contracts of the Medigen COVID-19 vaccine by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government. The KMT welcomes those with similar political ideals to join in preventing authoritarian one-party rule and ensuring democracy aligns with the public’s wishes.
Nauru cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan, allies dwindle to 12
Taiwan’s diplomatic ties with Nauru, its South Pacific ally, have been severed, reducing Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to 12. Taiwan and Nauru first established diplomatic relationships on May 4, 1980, with a brief interruption from 2002 to 2005 when Nauru switched allegiance to Beijing. Efforts by the then-Taiwanese Foreign Minister Mark Chen and Nauruan President Ludwig Scotty revived the ties. The current Nauruan president, David Adeang, received congratulations from the Taiwanese ambassador stationed in Nauru. Taiwan and Nauru have collaborated in various areas, including infrastructure construction, public health, clean energy, education, climate change, information technology, agriculture and fishing, and naval patrol. Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies include the Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini, the Holy See, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent.
Taiwan’s NHI reaches 91.2% satisfaction rate in 2023
Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) has achieved a satisfaction rate of 91.2% in 2023, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). This is the first time the satisfaction rate has not decreased despite an increase in insurance costs. Previous reductions in satisfaction were observed in 2002 and 2006 due to premium increases, and in 2013 following the implementation of the second-generation NHI. The highest-rated aspects of the NHI were accessibility to medical treatment and the quality of medical care, with increased insurance costs ranking third. The satisfaction rate reached its peak during times of pandemic, likely due to the introduction of home-based medical care services and improved medical accessibility. Since 2021, the satisfaction rate has consistently remained above 90% and even reached a new all-time high during the pandemic. Taiwan has been ranked number one in the global healthcare index published by NUMBEO for the past five years. The NHI budget has also seen significant growth, increasing by over 48% from NT$590.5 billion in 2015 to NT$875.5 billion in 2024. The survey involved 3,257 participants aged 18 in Taiwan, and while public satisfaction with the NHI is high, physicians generally express lower levels of satisfaction.
Taiwan warns against misleading heated tobacco claims
The Taiwan Health Promotion Administration warns the public that heated tobacco products have the same nicotine content and addictiveness as traditional tobacco, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s report revealed that marketing strategies used by heated tobacco businesses may mislead consumers into thinking these products are less harmful. Rats exposed to aerosols from a single heated tobacco stick had nicotine concentration in their blood 4.5 times higher than those exposed to traditional tobacco smoke. Nicotine not only leads to addiction but also causes harm to attention, learning, mood control, impulse control, pregnant women, and developing embryos. Heated tobacco emissions contain harmful and carcinogenic substances, putting the body at risk. Data does not support the idea that substituting traditional tobacco with heated tobacco reduces health risks. Tobacco companies use misleading marketing tactics to lure consumers, claiming lower health risks and reduced secondhand smoke and odor. It is important to note that no heated tobacco products are currently approved for sale in Taiwan, and their manufacturing, importation, selling, supplying, display, advertising, and usage are prohibited under the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.
Actress Tammy Lai denies wrongdoing amid health dept fine
Actress Tammy Lai responds to allegations of law violation, reaffirming her commitment to professionalism. Amidst ongoing legal proceedings, she vows to prove her innocence and expresses gratitude for public support.
Premier Chen defends Medigen vaccine confidentiality deal
Premier Chen Chien-jen discusses the pricing process and confidentiality agreements surrounding Medigen vaccines, stating that negotiations with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are ongoing. As a publicly listed company, any decisions about publicizing the government contract require shareholders’ approval. Chen emphasizes the government’s belief in vaccination as the best measure against the pandemic. Medigen had positive results from phase one trials and clinical experiments, leading to phase two development. The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted unity trials with four other countries after being unable to proceed with phase three trials due to Taiwan’s low COVID-19 case statistics. Chen disputes rumors about a 30-year embargo on clinical results, calling it fake news and clarifying that all official documents have a preservation period. He also refutes accusations that over a thousand Medigen shareholders are members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), calling them ＂imaginary numerical figures.＂ Chen hopes to disclose the information as soon as possible to maintain public trust, but it can only happen after negotiations and respecting existing confidentiality agreements.
Roaming cow causes minor Christmas traffic disruption
A wandering cow disrupts Christmas Day traffic in Hsinchu City, Taiwan, as it takes a stroll down a public road. Eyewitnesses spotted the bovine in the city’s East District on the night of December 24. With the help of police and the owner, it took about half an hour to guide the cow back home. The cow had broken free from its rope, allowing it to wander freely. Officials from the city’s Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office had tranquilizer darts on hand but decided not to use them after consulting with the owner. After half an hour of coaxing, the cow finally cooperated and was transported home, causing a memorable Christmas for Hsinchu City residents.
Changhua reports 5 OHCA cases amid extreme cold wave
The Fire Bureau of Changhua County reported 53 emergency medical cases in the last 24 hours, including five instances of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), possibly linked to a sudden dip in temperatures due to an extreme cold wave in Taiwan. The OHCA victims, aged 65 to 87, had yet to have the exact causes determined. Although the number of emergency cases is consistent with the daily average of 54, the number of non-responsive patients increased from three to five. The CHFD advises older adults, those with cardiovascular diseases, and others susceptible to cold weather to dress warmly. The Changhua County Public Health Bureau urges anyone experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest tightness to seek immediate medical care.
Chiayi DPP councilor’s death highlights lung cancer crisis
Lung cancer in Chiayi City is the leading cause of cancer deaths, accounting for nearly one-fifth of all cancer-related deaths in Taiwan. The recent death of Tsai Wen-hsu, a veteran councilor from the Democratic Progressive Party, has highlighted the importance of early cancer detection. Former Chiayi City mayor and minister of the Department of Health, Twu Shiing-jer, emphasized the need for preventive medicine and comprehensive screening. Statistics show that early-stage lung cancer has a significantly higher five-year survival rate. To address this issue, the Ministry of Health and Welfare launched an early lung cancer detection program, making Taiwan a leader in lung cancer screening. The program targets individuals with a family history of the disease and heavy smokers, offering low-dose CT scans every two years. However, while screening can detect lung cancer early, it cannot prevent the disease. Public health officials recommend smoking cessation services and rejecting smoking to mitigate the risk of lung cancer.
TPP’s Wu touts legislative record ahead of VP debate
Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) vice-presidential candidate Cynthia Wu highlights her legislative achievements during her 412-day tenure in the Legislative Yuan. She proposed 15 bills, hosted five public hearings, and three symposiums. Notable bills include amendments to the Central Bank Act, the Social Medical Development Act, and the Assisted Reproduction Act, reflecting her dedication to improving Taiwan’s financial stability, healthcare system, and reproductive health policies. Wu believes that her policy platform will be built upon these legislative proposals as she prepares for the upcoming televised policy presentation and debate. The vice-presidential TV policy presentation is scheduled for December 22, 2024, while the debate will take place on January 1, 2024, as the 2024 elections approach.
Taiwan braces for cold snap, temps to plunge to 8°C
Get the latest weather update for Taiwan. Temperatures are expected to increase slightly following the weakening of a mainland cold air mass. However, a more potent cold front is predicted to sweep in on Tuesday, with temperatures potentially dropping as low as 8°C on Thursday and Friday in the plains. The Central Weather Administration reports chilly temperatures ranging from 14-17°C in northern regions and Yilan, while central and southern areas are slightly warmer at 16-27°C. Greater Taipei and parts of the eastern half of the country may experience brief local showers, while other areas will remain mostly clear to cloudy. Dress warmly and be prepared for significant diurnal temperature variation in the western half. A frontal system on Tuesday brings a chance of rain to the north, followed by a stronger cold air mass on Wednesday with temperatures potentially falling to 10-11°C. Independent meteorologist Daniel Wu predicts the cold spell to peak between Thursday evening and Friday morning, with temperatures around 8°C, possibly making this cold air mass even more intense and enduring than its predecessor. The effects of the new cold front will continue until Saturday morning, leading to persistent wet and cold conditions in northern Taiwan, with central and southern parts experiencing a mix of clouds and clear skies. Stay vigilant regarding health and warmth due to these significant weather fluctuations.
Jaw Shaw-kon slams DPP for vaccine bias during pandemic peak
KMT Vice Presidential candidate Jaw Shaw-kong criticizes the DPP government for prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines for certain cities during the peak of the pandemic three years ago. He accuses the DPP of favoritism and urges New Taipei residents to remember the government’s actions and support the incumbent mayor, regardless of party affiliation. Jaw’s remarks aim to hold the DPP accountable in the upcoming elections and solidify the KMT’s base in Taiwan’s political landscape.
Taipei to offer free HPV vaccines to junior high boys
Starting September 2024, Taipei’s male junior high school students will receive the 9-valent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for free, as announced by the Taipei City Department of Health. The aim of this initiative is to enhance herd immunity, reduce HPV infections, and lower the incidence of related cancers by vaccinating both male and female students. With a vaccination rate of 91% among junior high school girls in 2021, the Health Commissioner decided to extend the program to boys. Consent from students and parents will be required, and a health assessment will be conducted by a physician. Vaccination sites will be set up in 93 schools, and there are also 115 contracted medical institutions available for students who cannot receive the vaccine at school. The vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infections and reducing the risk of related cancers is supported by medical studies. The World Health Organization recommends that 90% of girls under 15 receive the HPV vaccine, with boys included as a secondary priority group. The Health Promotion Administration has been providing the vaccine to female junior high students at public expense since 2018, establishing a strong foundation for safeguarding boys against HPV as well.
Taiwan detects mycoplasma infection in teen traveler
The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported the first case of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in a child detected during airport screening. A teenage boy developed a fever upon arriving from mainland China on December 4 and tested positive for the pathogen the following day. This detection has raised concerns amid an outbreak of respiratory illnesses in mainland China. The CDC has initiated targeted surveillance at the country’s four major international airports, urging travelers to undergo voluntary testing. Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections account for only 1.2 percent of the cases identified through airport screenings, indicating a downward trend overall. The current respiratory diseases in mainland China are predominantly attributed to influenza viruses, with Mycoplasma infections declining. Health officials have reassured the public that airport testing protocols will continue and are expected to be maintained through the Lunar New Year period to ensure monitoring of incoming travelers and the containment of potential infectious diseases.