Han tackles Kaohsiung's dengue outbreak by climbing tree

Itinerant Kaohsiung mayor climbs tree to find mosquitoes, spawns memes

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In a bizarre attempt to show that he is doing something to tackle the dangerous dengue fever outbreak in Kaohsiung, the city's itinerant mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) suddenly scampered up a tall banyan tree today (July 24).

There are 44 confirmed cases of dengue fever in urban areas of Kaohsiung, including two cases in Qianzhen District's Xishanli area. While visiting the area this morning with members of the press in tow, Han suddenly scurried up a banyan tree and shouted out with glee, "This tree has a hole with water in it where mosquitoes could breed!" reported Liberty Times.

Han then called on epidemic prevention personnel to climb up on their own and have them fill up the hole. Pan Chao-ying (潘炤穎), the head of the Kaohsiung health department's disease control division, then accompanied Han on an inspection of a nearby tunnel.


(Kaohsiung City Government photo)

When Han looked at the drainage ditch, he said, "The water is flowing so it's relatively safe," according to the report. He then went to the park behind the Fuxing Road police station while workers were already filling the hole in the banyan tree.

Han then demanded that workers use environmentally safe materials to patch the hole to avoid injuring the tree. Residents at the scene said that it was the first time they had seen the mayor inspect the area and were impressed with his tree climbing, crouching on the ground, and adeptness "in the 18 kinds of advanced kung fu skills" (十八般武藝), according to the report.

Han said that after the heavy rain on July 19, "mosquitoes like clean water the most." He said that to prevent dengue fever from erupting again, "leaves need to be cut from high places to let the sunshine and place foam pads on low-lying areas to prevent water from accumulating."


(CNA photo)

Neighborhoods in Kaohsiung suffered serious flooding as a result of torrential rains, which had stalled transportation in parts of the city. Many Kaohsiung residents on Friday night (July 19) and Saturday morning (July 20) morning blasted Han for what they saw as an inadequate response to the problem.

Many memes quickly appeared on social media mocking Han's latest stunt. One meme showed Han's head on the body of a monkey, while another had Han similar in size to King Kong and climbing all over Taipei 101.

An online bookstore immediately posted his photo with a cover of the book "Fish in a Tree" and included its famous quote, "Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid." The joke comes from the fact that Han's name is homophonic with the Chinese words "Korea fish."


(CNA photo)

Cabinet Spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka on Facebook wrote today that Han continued to criticize the Tsai administration. She said that the Cabinet is too busy to constantly bicker with the mayor and instead will focus on providing relief to those affected by the dengue fever epidemic.

Kolas said that according to Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control, the most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to remove stagnant water from containers and eliminate areas where the vector mosquitoes can breed. If there is a hole in a tree and there are concerns about water collecting there, simply fill it with dirt and grow a plant there.


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