CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan businesses help Saint Lucia deal with COVID-19 fallout
Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) Two Taiwanese businesses Wednesday threw their weight behind Saint Lucia's efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout by making donations and calling for the general public to show their support for the Caribbean ally.
At a press conference at the Embassy of Saint Lucia in Taipei, Altamoda Cosmetics Group CEO Sulliven Chen (陳威中) presented a check for NT$2.2 million (US$75,394) to Ambassador Edwin Laurent and thanked his country for its support of Taiwan's inclusion in international organizations.
"Even though the amount is not very much, we hope to encourage other businesses to do the same, while encouraging more Taiwanese to show their love and care for a true friend," Sulliven said.
Also at the press conference, waterproof and moisture permeability manufacturer G-Fun Industrial Corp. Chairman Jason Chen (陳國欽) showed samples of the 100 washable and reusable personal protective equipment medical gowns the company donated to the Embassy of Saint Lucia late last month.
"Saint Lucia is a beautiful country and it is very friendly towards Taiwan. Saint Lucia shows its support for Taiwan every year at the United Nations and I am deeply touched," Jason said.
He backed the donations by saying that businesses should not be only concerned about profits but should also make social contributions.
The donations come at a time when Saint Lucia is having to rely on help from its friends due to the impact of the pandemic, Laurent said.
"Out of the blue, the COVID-19 virus came along and it had changed everything. Like many other countries, we had to deal with the economic fallout in a way that probably no other country had to deal with," Laurent said.
He explained it was because Saint Lucia, which has a population of about 180,000, relies heavily on trade in both goods and services.
"Without the ability to trade comfortably, we are doomed, our people will not be able to get enough, even to eat," Laurent said.
The country re-opened its doors to tourists on June 4 in carefully planned phases after closing its borders on March 23, and has identified 12 other countries as destinations within a travel bubble, where quarantine can be exempted.
Asked by CNA why Taiwan is not included as one of the bubble countries, Laurent said even though Taiwan's disease prevention has been among the best in the world, Taiwanese still need to transit through a third-party area which has problems with COVID-19, such as the United States or the United Kingdom.
"If there could have been direct flights, yes it (inclusion of Taiwan within the bubble) is possible. We are working of course on better connections in the future and to develop tourism between Taiwan and Saint Lucia," Laurent said.
Saint Lucia has seen about 6,000 visitors since the re-opening, according to the St. Kitts-Nevis Observer newspaper.
To date, Saint Lucia has recorded 27 confirmed COVID-19 infections with all except one recovered, according to Saint Lucia's Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Prior to the latest donations, Taiwan had already donated 320,000 surgical face masks, 10,000 N95 masks, 4,000 isolation suits (for indoors and outdoors), 2,000 protective suits, 2 PCR machines with 720 test kits, 20,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets, 450 portable handheld thermometers, 6 body temperature imagers and 3 forehead thermometers, according to a statement issued by the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia Aug. 21.
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