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Taiwan universities’ capacity strained as students quarantine in conference rooms

NTU students complain about less than satisfactory isolation conditions

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Photo allegedly posted by a NTU student about dissatisfactory quarantine conditions. 

Photo allegedly posted by a NTU student about dissatisfactory quarantine conditions.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Universities in Taiwan are scrambling to find spaces to quarantine students confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 as reports alleged some were forced to sleep in conference rooms.

A student at National Taiwan University (NTU) posted a photo of a sleeping bag on the floor in a meeting room said to be in the school. The student, who said he/she was moved to the location after testing positive three days prior, complained about a lack of bathroom amenities and the presence of cockroaches.

NTU staff acknowledged that the school’s dormitories have become overwhelmed with confirmed cases during the fresh wave of new infections. This has presented a challenge to arranging isolation facilities for those who test positive and their close contacts, per CNA.

While mild cases are advised to return home for quarantine in line with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) guidelines, the university said the rule cannot be forcibly imposed on resident students. This has complicated the disease control effort and put a strain on the limited resources at the campus' disposal, according to NTU.

On May 1 and 2 alone, the university recorded 86 new cases. Those infected can only be sheltered in public spaces as an expedient measure and given tents and sleeping bags before being moved out at a later time.

The university has rented a hotel nearby and plans to rent more buildings to accommodate the rising number of cases and contacts. The arrangement is estimated to cost NT$10 million (US$338,365) for the current semester.