The Inevitable Happens: Lockdown


Due to the selfish actions of a few, COVID-19 has spread to multiple cities around Taiwan.  The government has enacted Level 3 of its four levels for pandemics.  Level 4 will happen if there are seven consecutive days with at least 100 new cases per day, which might happen. [Addendum below.]

As of today, all schools and most businesses are closed, so I’m off unpaid for two weeks, stuck at home.  All entertainment venues are fully closed: bars, clubs, arcades, movie theatres, pools, gyms, you name it.

All government services are now online only.  Good luck doing my taxes, though they have extended the deadline a month to the end of June.  On the bright side, all indoor religious congregations are banned, and they’re actually going to adhere, unlike those in South Korea, the US or Canada.

Taiwan confirms 333 new domestic COVID-19 cases; total passes 2,000

Taipei, May 17 (CNA) Taiwan on Monday confirmed 335 new cases of COVID-19, of which 333 were classified as domestic infections, breaking its daily record of local cases for the fourth consecutive day.

The new domestic cases are 189 females and 144 males, ranging from under five years of age to over 90, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.

Taipei reported the most cases, at 158, around half of which are residents of Wanhua District. New Taipei had the second highest number, at 148, with 41 reported in Banqiao District.

[. . .]

Of the 333 cases, 155 were linked to a cluster of infections involving hostess teahouses in Taipei’s Wanhua District, while 86 involved people who had recently been to Wanhua.

Six were related to a religious tour in southern Taiwan, five involved a Lions Club International organization based in New Taipei, and three were linked to games arcades in Yilan County.

One of my best friends lives smack dab in the middle of Wanhua, crying and telling me she sees people openly walking around and ignoring the mask mandate.  And that nothing has been done to shelter the homeless until the end of the month.  Infuriating.  I hope they all get hit with the NT$15,000 fine (US$533) for ignoring it.

Given the two week lag between exposure and symptoms, the thousand new cases in the last few days were a result of the pilots’ actions a few weeks ago.  Two weeks of everyone at home will do a lot to curb the spread.

The plan was to have the domestically produced Medigen vaccine rolled out in July.  Those who wanted could pay for AstraZeneca, but those appointments have been suspended.  Only about 1% of people are vaccinated; they’re trying to minimize travel and people entering hospitals, especially after one hospital became a hotspot.  Now I doubt if I can even get to the testing sites.  I was in Wanhua visiting my friend on May 1, and I walked through an open air market where some people weren’t wearing masks (I was).  The government didn’t announce it was a hot spot until this week, exposed from April 24 to May 10.

 


 

And as I type this, I get a phone notification: another rolling blackout is coming in thirty minutes.  Somebody screwed up at one of the power plants a few days ago, so the effect is being spread across the system gradually.

This is incomplete, I’ll come back and finish when I’m sure the power is reliable. It turned out to be a non-event in my area, but there were shutdowns.

Back to the plot, more below.

 


Parts of Taipei that are usually bustling have turned into ghost towns.  Pictured below is Songzhi Road (looking north, Taipei 101 is behind to the left), running through the fashionable and financial Xinyi district.  This area is packed seven days a week with shoppers and business people.

My biggest concern at the moment is the selfishness of individuals.  It’s not just where my friend mentioned above lives, it’s the actions of individuals.  Lying to the government, telling them that someone who is COVID-positive is “out of the country” while she’s walking around the city and spreading it?  He deserves the full NT$300,000 ($10,600) fine that the government gave him.

Taiwan COVID case fined for lying about daughter’s whereabouts

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A member of a Lions Club International chapter in New Taipei will receive a hefty fine for lying about his daughter’s whereabouts after he tested positive for COVID-19, the city government said Saturday (May 15).

The man (case No. 1,229) was among the domestic cases linked to a recent community cluster in New Taipei’s Luzhou District who had refused to provide his contact history during the investigation. He also lied about his daughter being abroad when she was actually in Kaohsiung, resulting in her not being included on the quarantine list.

Fearing for her safety, his daughter, who lives in Kaohsiung but visited him briefly in New Taipei this week, visited a local hospital for COVID-19 testing and was confirmed with the disease on Friday. She was listed as case No. 1,289.

Although earlier reports suggested that case No. 1,289 had learned about her father’s diagnosis from a close relative, medical staff at the hospital where she underwent her COVID-19 test suspected that she had known it all along. They said the daughter did not mention her father’s confirmed COVID-19 infection when she visited the hospital and that she claimed she was taking the test to go abroad.

Speaking to the media, New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said case No. 1,229 will be fined NT$300,000 (US$10,724) for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act. He said the man’s “unacceptable” behavior had created panic in the community.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said case No. 1,289 took a TRA train from New Taipei to Kaohsiung after visiting her father. She also went to a PX Mart supermarket and a gym after returning to the city, he added.

And the latest news says we’re now at Level 4 in New Taipei City (the suburb surrounding Taipei) which is where I live.

I’m really glad I got my mountain bike tuned up a few weeks ago.  With two weeks of nothing to do, I hope I’ll be allowed to ride my bike along the riverside park.

Final addendum: At least there still are some responsible people.  Netizens have created a hot spot map for the entire island.  This isn’t from the government, it’s regular people doing this.

 


 

Another addendum, written before reading the newest comments:

I was frustrated and snarky in my response to blf. Normally I try to keep a cool head, but I let the situation get to me. That’s another reason I leave out profanity and insults, it’s easier to apologize.

There have been 1800 cases in the week, and many selfish individuals refusing to wear masks.  The government has handed out hundreds of fines.  Social meetings (other than family) are limited to two people.  A homeless man slashed and stabbed two cops who asked him to wear one, and there are many homeless around Taipei.

My friend has it, though her symptoms don’t appear life threatening.

 

Comments

  1. JM says

    It must be really annoying to have the disease spread now when the country was so close to rolling out vaccinations. Another couple of months and it probably wouldn’t have mattered much.

    The empty roads in areas where they are normally busy 24 hours a day is creepy. I drove through some of those last spring when the area was in a lockdown and people took it seriously. It just felt odd to be driving on a road that normally has too many cars to count and only see 2-3 cars total.

  2. blf says

    Apologies if this has been explained, but what I don’t get is this (noting the OP says only c.1% have been vaccinated): [Rhi: What is this garbage? -> ] Island China Taiwan did a great job in keeping Covid-19 out, and basically obtained a considerable amount of time without having to deal with full ICUs and all the rest. So why wasn’t that time spent in preparing for vaccines to become available, and then starting / ramping-up a vaccination drive? (Off the top of my head, I’d speculate a lack of vaccine manufacturing capability (and / or possibly licensing issues?).)

    I’m in the EU (France), which has had a botched vaccine drive (due to both EU-wide and country-specific issues). Nonetheless, parts of the EU (including France) did starting vaccinating as soon as possible (at considerably different rates in different countries); France is now at c.20m (c.30%) with at least one jab, despite — until recently — not making any Covid-19 vaccines. France and Island China have similar GDP per capita (2017: Taiwan c.50,000$, France c.44,000$), suggesting economics isn’t the issue per se. And France (dunno about Island China) is notoriously vaccine-hesitant (a famous poll back in December 2020 reported only c.40% of the French were (then) willing get the vaccine). So why the exceptionally slow / low vaccination rate in Island China ?

  3. says

    “Island China”? WTF? Taiwan is a sovereign country.

    First, the outbreak was caused by irresponsible pilots and business people violating quarantine, not a failure of the government’s plans and policies. All such incidents were caused by selfish people violating rules. Almost half of the 2000 known cases are in the last week, with two more deaths, 14 in all.

    Taiwan is the sixth most densely populated country in the world (of countries with at least five million people), and managed to go this long without a large outbreak. As an island, all transit in and out was controlled both at airports and shipping docks. As of today, no one without citizenship or an existing residency visa can enter. Transiting between flights at the airport is no longer allowed.

    Second, Taiwan purchased 20 million doses in February 2021 of three types of vaccine: Moderna, COVAX, and AstraZenaca. Taiwan’s own pharmaceutical companies Medigen and Addimmune worked on their own, though only Medigen’s is ready for approval. There will be enough doses for the entire population, citizens and foreigners, and more available to export to allies later.

    Why did the government wait to purchase them? Because other countries were desperate and had immediate need, hundreds of thousands dying. Taiwan made the decision to wait unselfishly because we had time. Had everyone obeyed the rules, mass vaccination would have begun in July and the entire island protected by the fall.

  4. blf says

    “Island China”? WTF? Taiwan is a sovereign country.

    Both Big China and Island China insist on being called “China”. And are independent countries. I am doing what they both want, and referring to them as Chinas. FECK THE NONSENSE there is only one China.

    Why did the government wait to purchase [vaccines]? Because other countries were desperate and had immediate need, hundreds of thousands dying. Taiwan made the decision to wait unselfishly because we had time. Had everyone obeyed the rules, mass vaccination would have begun in July and the entire island protected by the fall.

    Pathetic garbage. Apparently Island China’s government does not know what risk analysis is. A system with a single point of failure — in this case, assuming there would not be a breach for any reason — is itself a failure. Absolutely incompetent.

    Again, a compassion to the EU: Since the start, the EU has both allocated and shipped vaccines to countries in need without adequate resources. And yes, far too little. But at the same time as trying to protect their own residents. Yes, the EU didn’t — and probably couldn’t — rely on isolation as a protection, but, despite the vaccine rollout being botched, has managed to do both: Seriously attempt to vaccinate (and in a timely manner) the local populace and supply vaccines to others (concurrently).

  5. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    “FECK THE NONSENSE there is only one China.”

    Feck the nonsense indeed. If you can’t travel between them without going through customs (and you can’t) then there is more than one country calling itself China.

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