Taiwan's President & Defence Minister apologise for cluster of 28 Covid-19 cases on navy ship

Some of the island's mayors have discussed the possibility of implementing a lockdown if needed.

Matthias Ang | April 24, 2020, 06:38 PM

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and Minister of National Defence, Yen De-fa, have both apologised for the emergence of a cluster of Covid-19 cases on board a Taiwanese navy ship.

Focus Taiwan quoted Tsai as stating, "We will not evade responsibility for this," and that the military's business was also her business, given her role as commander-in-chief.

She added that errors had been made by the military in its handling of the cluster, and apologised that those errors had caused a public health risk.

Taiwan's biggest cluster

Bloomberg reported that this makes the ship Taiwan's biggest cluster so far.

According to Focus Taiwan, the ship participated in a training exercise in the island nation of Palau in March, then headed back to Taiwan.

The crew of the infected ship visited around 90 locations in 10 different cities and counties, from Apr. 15 to Apr. 18.

However, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre discovered that there was a cluster of Covid-19 cases on board.

Public concern has since emerged about a possible community spread.

Admirals have been removed

Yen stated that his ministry "deeply regretted" the mismanagement of Covid-19 measures on the ship and subsequent disturbances to the public, Taiwan Today reported.

Yen added that a preliminary investigation had since found flaws in the disease prevention protocol of both the navy and the ship's central command.

Two admirals with direct knowledge of the matter have also since been removed from their posts.

Cluster is an emergency but situation still far from lockdown

Taiwan's Minister of Health, Chen Shih-Chung, has stated that a lockdown is not necessary at the moment, although advance preparation and drills are needed, the Taipei Times reported.

In elaborating on his remarks, Chen said that while the cluster was an emergency situation, Taiwan was still far from implementing a lock down, the Taipei Times further reported.

He added,"Considering the global and domestic disease situations, as well as the control over emergency situations, it is not the time to implement a lockdown in Taiwan."

Mayors discuss lockdown if one is necessary

However, some of the island's mayors have since raised the possibility about implementing a lockdown if needed.

Taiwan News reported that on Apr. 20, New Taipei City held a simulation of a 21-day-lockdown, in response to the cluster on the ship.

The city's mayor, Hou You-yi, added that he had discussed such an event with the mayors of other cities, and added that it was crucial for every city to unite in such a scenario.

Top image from Tsai Ing-wen Facebook