Premier urges social distancing during coronavirus pandemic

People are advised to stay at least 1 meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors

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Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) gets his temperature checked.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) gets his temperature checked. (CNA photo)

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Sunday reminded people of the need to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing when outdoors in accordance with the country's measures to combat the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

About 4 billion people around the world are under lockdowns as the coronavirus has spread to at least 160 countries and regions around the globe, Su said during a visit to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Taiwan is one of only a handful of countries in the world that still allow people to maintain normal life and daily activities,thanks to the joint efforts of the people, he noted, while calling on the public to remain vigilant to avert the need for stricter measures.

In response to calls for the government to close night markets or shopping malls, Su said that although tougher measures have not been adopted, Taiwan's people have done well at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Su said he hopes the public continues its disease control efforts and adhering to social distancing guidelines, so normal life and business activities continue.

Under the guidelines announced last week by CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), people are advised to stay at least 1 meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors, and wear a face mask if they are unable to maintain a safe distance.

It was understandable that so many visited scenic sites and night markets during the recent four-day Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, which started last Thursday, Su said, adding that people must still keep a safe distance when in crowds to protect both themselves and others. Meanwhile, Su said the government has no plans to cancel the three-day Labor Day weekend that starts May 1.

Addressing a comment by former Kuomintang Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) that the government should only donate surgical masks to other countries after Taiwan's consumers can buy 10 adult masks every 14 days under a rationing policy, Su said residents will be able to buy nine adult masks every 14 days from April 9, up from two per week at the beginning of the ration program, due to rising domestic mask production.

"Nine adult masks every 14 days" is an acceptable figure and the public should prevent waste of resources, according to Su. Aside from wearing masks, people should wash their hands frequently and reduce going to crowded places to prevent infection with the virus, he added.

Chen's comments came after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)last week announced plans to donate 10 million masks to countries that have been most severely impacted by the coronavirus.

Also Sunday, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) stated that domestic demand for masks should first be met if the government has the extra capacity to donate masks.

The supply should be at least 10 masks every 14 days for each adult and 14 masks would be even better, Hou said at a city coronavirus response meeting.

About 5,000 people visit City Hall per day and from Monday, all visitors will be required to wear masks, according to the city's Secretariat.