This Week in Taiwan 0425-0502

April 25: During the first trial operation of the Green line of the Taichung Metro, a train coupling failure occurred, and service became suspended. After repair and second trial operation, the Taichung Metro officially commenced service on April 25. President Tsai Ing-wen, former President Ma Ying-jeou, and five incumbent and former mayors of Taipei and Taichung attended the opening ceremony. Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen stated that the city finally has its first metro line after 13 years of construction. 


April 26: The three main battleships "Long March No. 18," "Dalian," and "Hainan" of the mainland Chinese navy were put into service at the Sanya Naval Port in Hainan Province on April 23. This is the first time that the mainland Navy enlisted three ships on the same day. At the Legislative Yuan, Director-General Chen Ming-tong of National Security Bureau (NSB) stated that the NSB is fully aware of the developments, and China's posture in the South China Sea has caused tense relations in the neighboring region. It is understood that the ongoing Hankuang simulation exercise is setting these new warships of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as exercise targets. 


April 26: Affected by drought, agricultural losses since March have totaled nearly NT$430 million. According to the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, the drought conditions are alleviating for the first time. From April 21 to 25, rainfall in the flatlands, mountains, fields, and river basins of central and southern Taiwan benefited rice fields and fruit trees in the non-irrigated areas of Kaohsiung and Pingtung, improving the growth conditions of crops. 


April 27: On April 16, 10 men in black broke into the Songshan precinct in Taipei, clamored and destroyed a computer. The police not only failed to investigate but also claimed that no video of the incident was recorded due to power outage. The precinct even arranged the man in black and an athletic coach who was battered to shake hands and reconcile peacefully in front of the police station. But the case took a negative turn on April 27. Police Chief Chen Chia-chang of the Taipei City Police Department confirmed at the city council that the video of the police station director was deleted erroneously, the video has since been restored, and some 10 individuals, including the perpetrator, precinct directors, and deputy directors were submitted to further investigation. The National Police Administration also removed Lin Chih-cheng from the position of division director to serve internally instead in the city police department.


April 28: The Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced that each victim of the Taroko Express rail accident will be compensated NT$15.7 million (about US$563 million) , plus NT$15 million (US$538 million) in donations, for a total of NT$30.7 million (about US1.1 million) per victim. The compensation sets a record in Taiwan for all sea, land, and air accidents. 


May 1: Chao Chie-you, son of convener Chao Ing-kuang of the review committee of the Taipei branch of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was involved in a drug case that intensified. From public security, police discipline, to prolonged party factional struggles, the Kuomintang criticized the DPP for governing with gang members, seriously upsetting the image of the DPP. It is reported that President Tsai Ing-wen, who is also chairwoman of the DPP, was furious, and the Taipei party branch promptly handled the resignation of the older Chao. An interim jury committee meeting was held; a new convener was elected; and the younger Chao was expelled from the party. 


May 2: The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed that four employees of Novotel in Taipei tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) . This is the first incident of cluster transmission at an epidemic prevention hotel in Taiwan. Novotel was ordered to be cleared for two weeks, and epidemic prevention hotels around Taiwan will be comprehensively inspected.


As of May 1, the China Airlines and Novotel incident has counted 10 infected pilots, 10 domestic confirmed cases, and five family cluster infections. The first confirmed case at Novotel, case 1120, was infected with the British variant of the virus. It was confirmed that the China Airlines pilot and Novotel cluster transmission were related. 


As of May 2, four additional domestic cases were reported. This cluster, including the Australian pilot who tested positive, includes 24 positive cases, officially surpassing the 21 cases in the earlier Taoyuan Hospital incident.


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