CECC denies subsidies to couple at center of negative BBC report

03/27/2020 10:49 PM
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Taipei, March 27 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) will deny NT$28,000 (US$930) in subsidies to a quarantined couple after the BBC reported they were dissatisfied with their conditions, even if neither of the two were cited directly in the report.

The story, which went viral on social media after its publication Thursday, was pulled without explanation Friday amid a strong backlash on social media.

In a press release, the CECC said the BBC report misrepresented the couple's treatment while in quarantine at a repurposed school dormitory in Hualien that began on March 15 and had damaged Taiwan's international standing.

The report also mislead the public, affecting people's willingness to cooperate with quarantine measures, and thereby impeding Taiwan's COVID-19 response efforts, the CECC contended.

Because of those factors, the CECC said it decided to deny the government's daily subsidy of NT$1,000 to all those in quarantine on the grounds that their actions had violated Taiwan's Communicable Disease Control Act as well as the terms for claiming the benefits.

The BBC report cited the mother of British citizen Natalie Dawson as criticizing the conditions her daughter and Australian partner were subject to, saying they were separated and "incarcerated" in a filthy room with no hot water and food of poor quality.

Dawson on Friday issued a statement through the British Office Taipei apologizing for the issue, which she said had been "blown out of proportion."

Despite having some issues with the quarantine center after her arrival, Dawson said she fully respected Taiwan's approach to quarantine and had never questioned its importance.

"I know my mum has been very worried, with me so far away, in unfamiliar surroundings and at a time of a global health pandemic, but I never asked or wanted her to speak to the press," she wrote, adding that she was pleased that the article had been removed.

Hualien health officials said Friday that the couple are scheduled to be released from quarantine on Saturday at 11:59 p.m., and that they will be provided transportation to Hualien train station.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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