CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan's President Tsai apologizes for COVID-19 deaths

06/11/2021 08:24 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen. Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
President Tsai Ing-wen. Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday apologized for the lost of lives in the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak and vowed that her government will make necessary adjustments to win the battle against the new coronavirus.

"The countrymen who contracted the coronavirus and those who lost their lives because of the infection are all part of the Taiwan family," Tsai said in a public address livestreamed on her Facebook page.

"As your president, I extend my deepest sympathies and apologies to them. The government will exert all efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and let the situation return to normalcy," she said.

The apology came after growing criticism that her administration has been too slow in buying vaccines and promoting vaccinations, and had refused to do mass testing early on, while making it difficult for local governments and private groups to purchase vaccines on their own, and being too hurried in ordering local vaccines that haven't completed Phase 2 clinical trials or begun Phase 3 trials.

Tsai's government has denied these allegations.

On Friday, she noted that the country faced serious COVID-19 threats in the past week, especially when mutated coronavirus strains were involved in recent cases.

She added that the government is now focusing on lowering the number of severe cases and the mortality rate, by enhancing medical capabilities, prioritizing senior citizens in vaccination drives, and setting up screening booths in high-risk communities.

The president vowed to work with the private sector to continue making necessary adjustments to ensure that Taiwan will not be defeated by the coronavirus.

She again urged the public to refrain from long distance travel on the eve of the long weekend marking the Dragon Boat Festival from June 12-14, when typically many people travel for fun or for family reunions.

President Tsai Ing-wen's video message on Friday (in Chinese). Courtesy of the Presidential Office

Many people are expected to stay home and mark the festival on their own, instead of celebrating with their extended family, to help stop the spread of the virus, given Taiwan only has around 3 million doses of the 30 million it needs to achieve herd immunity.

As a result of the recent outbreak, schools and public venues have also been shut and many businesses have closed.

To date, Taiwan has confirmed a total of 12,500 COVID-19 cases, over 11,000 of which are domestic infections reported since May 15, when Taiwan first reported over 100 domestic infections since the outbreak began in early 2020, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

On COVID-19 fatalities, 385 have died, including 373 since May 15, the CECC data showed.

(By Wen Kui-hsiang, Lai Yu-chen, Matthew Mazzetta and Emerson Lim)

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