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Taiwan sends deputy health minister to WHA

MOFA continues efforts to obtain invitation to attend as observer

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Deputy Health Minister Lee Li-fen will be in Geneva for May 22-28 WHA. 

Deputy Health Minister Lee Li-fen will be in Geneva for May 22-28 WHA.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Deputy Health and Welfare Minister Lee Li-feng (李麗芬) will travel to Switzerland for the World Health Assembly (WHA) even though Taiwan has not received an invitation to attend, reports said Saturday (May 7).

China has for years succeeded in blocking Taiwan from participating in the annual event in Geneva as an observer, though international support for Taipei’s cause has markedly increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s May 22-28 conference will be the first WHA since 2019 not to take place exclusively online. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) had intended to travel to Geneva and meet health officials on the margins of the event, but he changed his mind because of the pandemic surge in Taiwan, CNA reported.

The daily number of new local infections reached a record 46,377 Saturday, with some forecasts predicting between 50,000 and 100,000 cases per day next week. As a result, Chen said he should stay in the country, given his role as head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it would continue its efforts to persuade the World Health Organization (WHO) to extend an invitation to Taiwan for the 75th edition of the WHA.