CORONAVIRUS/Father of COVID-19 child victim frustrated at not receiving audio recording

06/02/2022 11:20 PM
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The father of a 2-year-old boy who died from COVID-19 last month speaks to reporters outside the New Taipei City Hall on Thursday. CNA photo June 2, 2022
The father of a 2-year-old boy who died from COVID-19 last month speaks to reporters outside the New Taipei City Hall on Thursday. CNA photo June 2, 2022

Taipei, June 2 (CNA) The father of a 2-year-old boy who died from COVID-19 in April expressed frustration Thursday after New Taipei City government refused to provide him with an audio file of the call he and his wife made when they tried to call an ambulance for their son.

Speaking to reporters outside city hall, the father surnamed Lin (林) said he was given a verbatim transcript, and told he could only listen to the audio recording on site.

According to Lin, the city said this was because the recordings contain the voices of fire department personnel, which are protected under the Personal Data Protection Act.

Lin was also told that if he wants to listen to the recording, he can go to the fire department at any time to check whether there are any discrepancies in the verbatim transcript.

"This is totally absurd," he said, referring to the claims about personal data protection, which he said was not an issue when he applied for and received the recording of his call to the 1922 hotline in a similar request to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Lin said he could not comprehend why the city government would not simply provide him with an audio file, which would make it easier to compare the recording with the transcript, which is over 10 pages long.

Earlier this week, the father and his wife filed applications with New Taipei City government, Zhonghe health center, and the CDC 1922 hotline, asking them to make public records of their calls.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Lin appealed to the government to explain why it had taken 81 minutes for an ambulance to take his son to hospital, a delay he suggested was responsible for the child's death.

Despite six days of treatment in an intensive care unit at Shuang Ho Hospital in New Taipei's Zhonghe District, the boy died on April 19, becoming the first child in Taiwan to die of COVID-19 complications since the pandemic began in 2020.

"After En En (恩恩, the boy's name) tested positive for the disease with a high fever, we repeatedly called Zhonghe District Public Health Center, but nobody answered. We called the New Taipei fire department, which asked us to get approval from the health center first, and we then dialed 119 (ambulance hotline) four times before an ambulance was dispatched," the father said in the Facebook post on Monday.

"Why did it take 81 minutes for the ambulance to come?" Lin asked.

"We need all the call records and recordings and the notification of our report to the police, a right (granted to citizens) based on the Freedom of Government Information Act," he said in a separate Facebook post on Wednesday.

On Thursday, New Taipei Fire Department Director Huang Te-ching (黃德清) said Lin did not listen to the recordings when he picked up the verbatim transcript at city hall that day.

The 119 calls are viewed as emergency case reporting that contains personal information, which is different from the 1922 service call, Huang said, which is why Lin was provided with only the transcript and not an audio file.

(By Sunrise Huang, Shen Pei-yao and Ko Lin)

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