Taiwan raises epidemic response level to highest

February 27, 2020 10:16
A tourist from Taiwan wears stickers on her back in Milan amid reports that some Italians are blaming Chinese for the coronavirus outbreak in the European country. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan on Thursday raised its epidemic response level to the highest as it readied a US$2 billion package to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its export-reliant economy.

The move allows the government to tackle the virus outbreak in a much faster manner with more resources across various ministries, the official Central News Agency reported.

Premier Su Tseng-chang announced the decision in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, citing sporadic cases of community transmission on the island, which has seen 32 cases of the coronavirus and one death.

It came days after Taiwan’s parliament approved a NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) package to soften the impact from the virus on its economy, which includes loans for small businesses, subsidies for hard-hit tour agencies and even vouchers to spend on food in Taiwan’s famous night markets.

“As the international epidemic outbreak gets more serious day by day, Taiwan needs to enhance its defense against the virus,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said while overseeing troops tasked with disinfection on Thursday morning.

“We will integrate all government resources to fight against the threats of the coronavirus.”

The island has largely suspended travel and tourism links with China to curb its spread and advised citizens against visiting South Korea.

This week Taiwan passed a bill to penalize people who violate government-mandated home quarantine orders, with those in breach possibly facing a NT$2 million fine or two years in jail. Reuters 

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