Taiwan island sees record COVID-19 surge; DPP fails in virus control
Published: May 16, 2021 10:35 PM
Workers disinfect Wanhua district, an area that has one of the largest number of coronavirus cases in the city, in Taipei, China on Sunday. Photo: IC

Workers disinfect Wanhua district, an area that has one of the largest number of coronavirus cases in the city, in Taipei, China on Sunday. Photo: IC

The island of Taiwan is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, highlighting the pro-secessionism Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) negligence. Although some have called for semi-official cooperation with the Chinese mainland on vaccines and epidemic control, it's very likely that the DPP will refuse the mainland's kindness.

Besides, it seems that the DPP will continue to play the "grief card" for political manipulation and to hype the possibility of joining the World Health Assembly (WHA), observers noted. 

On Friday, Taiwan reported 180 new confirmed cases, and the number rose to 207 on Saturday, setting a record on the island that has always boasted of being an "excellent student" of epidemic prevention under the banner of "Taiwan can help."

The situation got out of control in late April when a cluster infection broke out due to a loophole in the quarantine requirements for airline crew members - three-day loose isolation in a loosely managed hotel, instead of the widely used 14-day standard after long-haul flights. 

On May 11, the head of health authority on the island Chen Shih-chung said that the epidemic on the island had entered the stage of community transmission.

In response to public urging, Chen said on Thursday that universal screening without a clear purpose is meaningless, media reported. His act sparked discontent among some Taiwan people, who accusing him of fearing the exposure of more cases.

Taiwan's vaccination rate was lower than 1 percent as of May 12. The only vaccine available on the island is the imported AstraZeneca, with the total amount being only about 300,000 doses, media reported. On Saturday, Taiwan suspended individual vaccination appointments amid surging cases.

DPP authorities have refused to purchase vaccines produced by the Chinese mainland. As the epidemic situation worsens, many people and other political parties are calling on the DPP authorities to stop politicizing the epidemic and accept help from the mainland.

Ting Shou-chung, a former Kuomintang legislator, on Wednesday called on the DPP authorities to introduce the WHO-approved mainland vaccines, saying that human lives are at stake and politics should not be involved in epidemic prevention.

It is unlikely that the DPP authorities will ease their attitude toward mainland-produced vaccines, Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center of Cross-Straits Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Wednesday that the DPP authorities ignore the health and well-being of Taiwan people, and fabricating absurd reasons to refuse the vaccines and kits is practicing "dark politics." 

"If the situation does not improve, it is expected that the acquisition of mainland-produced vaccines may be achieved through civic means, such as through the Red Cross Society," Yang said.

Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that the DPP authorities are likely to further politicize the epidemic, using the new surge to hype the possibility of participating in the WHA and demanding more vaccine allocations from the West.

"Nonetheless, such hype will not be well-received," Wang said.

The island of Taiwan had registered 1,682 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths as of Saturday, reports said.