Taiwan medical workers launch petition in support of government

More than 65,000 signatories demand only Taiwan citizens be evacuated on flights from Wuhan

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Tsai Ing-wen addresses evacuation plans for Taiwanese citizens in China.

Tsai Ing-wen addresses evacuation plans for Taiwanese citizens in China. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese doctor Wu Hsin-tai (吳欣岱) has launched a petition calling for the government to postpone evacuation of Taiwanese citizens in Wuhan.

As of Friday afternoon (Feb. 7), the petition, "Medical workers supporting Taiwan government's insistence on medical defense," had garnered more than 65,000 signatures across the country. The website for the petition is expected to close at 8 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 8).

The petition aims to protect the health of Taiwan citizens and highlights three demands, including:

  1. Only Taiwan citizens are permitted to board evacuation planes
  2. All evacuees need to be accompanied by medical workers from Taiwan
  3. The number of evacuation flights should be limited

Wu pointed out that currently Taiwan only has 1,100 beds available in negative-pressure isolated wards and shelters, so it is important to safeguard the country's medical resources. She urged the Taiwan government to stand up to political manipulation from the Chinese government and prioritize citizens that are in desperate need of medical attention, reported Liberty Times.

Wu's petition came as a reaction to Wednesday's (Feb. 5) controversy over coordination of the first evacuation flight. Hsu Cheng-wen (徐正文), the supposed coordinator of the flight, has been accused of replacing Taiwanese children with Chinese spouses of his business partners, including a man who tested positive on Tuesday (Feb. 4) for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Since then, thousands of Taiwanese netizens have voiced their anger toward Hsu, calling him a traitor and bashing him for breaking the agreement originally discussed with Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC). With more than 900 Taiwanese citizens to be evacuated, many worry the Chinese authorities will attempt to send more confirmed coronavirus patients to Taiwan.

At a press conference on Friday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the government will continue to help evacuate citizens from China, but will not rush the process. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) added that it is important to safeguard the island nation before helping citizens abroad, according to CNA.