TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A prominent Taiwanese physician has called on the government to cancel the Dragon Boat Festival holiday break after news broke of a Malaysian man who returned to his hometown and infected over 2,000 people with COVID-19.
Shih Jin-chung (施景中), an obstetrician at National Taiwan University Hospital on Saturday (June 5) took to Facebook to post news of a Malaysian man who infected thousands of people with COVID-19 after returning to his hometown. The man, a student who had returned to attend a funeral, infected 2,363 people with the virus, and 29 have died from the disease thus far.
Shih urged the Taiwanese people not to "repeat the same mistake." He suggested younger people living in cities tell older relatives in their hometowns: "I have decided not to go back to see you because I want to protect you."
He was cited by UDN as pointing out that in terms of the distribution of coronavirus cases in Taiwan, the "Twin Cities" area of New Taipei and Taipei is the hot spot for infections. Shih expressed his fear that if a large number of people travel from north to south during the Dragon Boat Festival, infections in southern Taiwan could increase significantly.
In addition to Malaysia, Shih said that similar superspreader events have occurred in the U.K. and the U.S. He said the spike seen in those countries in January was believed to have been caused by the large number of people traveling during the Christmas holiday.
Likewise, he said that Israel suffered a major outbreak after the Passover holiday. Shih said his warning may fall on deaf ears and that young people may feel pressure from their elders to return home despite the warnings.
Therefore, Shih called on the government to cancel the holiday to stem the tide of people returning home over the weekend. Alternatively, he said the government should at least clearly warn the public to "not travel unless absolutely necessary for medical treatment or work obligations."