CECC head Chen Shih-chung may be focused more on the Taipei mayoral race he may be a contender for this year than keeping Taiwanese people safe as the national buzzword remains “normal life 正常生活,” despite cases nearing their all time highs in Taiwan with no sign of abating, and the government refusing to implement lockdown measures to stem the spread.
Coming out of a long weekend during which many Taiwanese travelled to their hometowns, two music festivals, a train shutdown and highspeed rail shutdown with more than 100,000 people trapped on platforms in close proximity, the potential for an eruption in cases could be explosive.
Yet both the Taiwanese government and much of the media have been taking a wait and see approach, with many repeating the false assertion that vaccines alone are sufficient to prevent infection, serious illness, or even death.
Large Taiwanese media outlets like Storm and UDN have virtually no coverage on the explosion in cases, while more partisan media such as LTN and China Times have been slightly more generous. Still, the consensus within much of Taiwanese public discourse, with social media posts shared and repeated by some of these media firms, suggest that many believe that for the vaccinated, there is nothing to worry about. Such misinformation is blatantly contradicted by the situation being faced by Hong Kong, which when facing case increases also recently relaxed their containment policies, and is now facing the highest per capita COVID death rate in the entire world with around 300 deaths per day. This is despite their relatively high full vaccination rate of around 78%.
The Taiwanese government is facing a critical juncture where it must decide if the lives of its weakest, including its sizable elderly population, its immunocompromised, and its frail, are worth the same as the profit margins of its airline industry and nightlife venues.
Should they make the wrong choice, not only will the DPP suffer historical losses, but history will forever stand in judgement of all those who sacrificed irreplaceable human lives for material gains.