Taiwanese medical staff warn of strain on resources needed to contain coronavirus

Frontline medical personnel in Taiwan echo concerns of petition signed by 117,000, cast doubt on China's screening of Taiwanese evacuees

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Taiwan has limited beds for quarantined patients with novel coronavirus.  

Taiwan has limited beds for quarantined patients with novel coronavirus.   (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After a petition initiated by a Taiwanese surgeon, Wu Xin-dai, (吳欣岱) received more than 117,000 signatures, medical personnel in Taiwan shed light on the dilemma the country faces in dealing with the China-controlled planes being used to evacuate Taiwanese from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

The petition urges the Taiwanese government to permit only Taiwanese citizens to board the evacuation planes as well as to implement strict examinations, quarantine evacuees upon their arrival, and plan the evacuations according to available medical resources.

These demands are a direct response to the outrage seen after the first evacuation plane arranged by the Chinese authorities arrived in Taiwan on Feb. 3. The communist government failed to prioritize the elderly, children, and patients in desperate need of medical support, and one passenger tested positive for the novel coronavirus just hours after the plane landed.

"What we have to send home is our expats, not the coronavirus. Infected Taiwanese can only stay in Wuhan to receive treatment," Taiwanese psychiatrist Liu Zen-Bo (劉貞柏) shared in a Facebook post.

Owing to the fact that the passengers were on the same flight as a man confirmed infected, Liu said the authorities ought to upgrade the general quarantine to a "pre-treatment" level for all passengers, meaning more medical resources would be required.

A Taiwanese nurse working in a quarantine environment also stepped forward to underline the strain on frontline medical staff.

In a Facebook post, she wrote that she worried about the number of beds remaining for patients in quarantine and accused people who hoard face masks and patients who conceal their symptoms to escape quarantine of greatly interfering with their efforts to resist the virus outbreak.

In response to the conspiracy theory that China is planning to paralyze Taiwan's medical system by sending more infected patients across the strait, China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) issued a statement on Friday (Feb. 7).

The office said it placed confidence in the preventive measures implemented by Chinese authorities. It also asserted that its aircraft were thoroughly sterilized and that no passengers had been found to have a fever before the flight took off on Feb. 3.

"If China made every effort to sift through passengers but still failed to prevent the coronavirus from making it on board, it only proves evacuation planes managed by Chinese authorities are unreliable," said Liu.