Not a god: Taiwan defends health minister amid uptick in COVID cases

Not a god: Taiwan defends health minister amid uptick in COVID cases

Not a god: Taiwan defends health minister amid uptick in COVID cases Photo

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung holds a news conference about Taiwans efforts to get into the World Health Organization in Taipei, Taiwan, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang defended the islands health minister on Tuesday amid a rare uptick in domestic COVID-19 infections, saying that even if he were a god reborn on earth he could not protect against every eventuality.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control because of early and effective prevention, including largely closing its borders. Most of its 1,154 cases to date have been imported from abroad, although Taiwan has reported sporadic domestic infections.

Since last month Taiwan has recorded 28 cases linked to a hotel at the islands main international airport at Taoyuan outside of Taipei and crew at Taiwans largest carrier China Airlines Ltd (2610.TW), with some infections occurring domestically.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung has come under criticism, including from the main opposition party the Kuomintang, over a series of issues that could have worsened the outbreak, including not wearing face masks and allowing Taiwanese and foreign pilots to mix at a single hotel.

Su told reporters that despite strict government rules, not everyone adhered to the rules and it was impossible to be everywhere at once to ensure regulations are followed.

"A single Chen Shih-chung, even if he were a god reborn, would not be able to do it, and there is no way to see if every place has no breaches" in the rules, Su added.

The government is looking at which procedures can be tightened, Su said, pointing to Mondays decision to ban people entering who had been in badly-affected India. read more

Speaking separately, Chen thanked Su for his comments, adding that the key to fighting COVID-19 was mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing and getting vaccinated.

Taiwans total case numbers remain extremely small compared with those in many other countries, with only 75 people being treated in hospital. It has reported 12 deaths.

While North Koreas barrage of complaints about U.S. President Joe Bidens policies over the weekend might appear to be ratcheting up tensions, some signs suggest Pyongyang hasnt ruled out diplomacy with the new team in Washington.

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