| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Taiwan postpones referendums amid COVID-19 concerns

The electoral commission announced on Friday that four referendums scheduled for late next month will be postponed because to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, as the government rushed to manage a fresh outbreak at a Taipei wholesale food market.

Since mid-May, Taiwan has been coping with a cluster of community illnesses, but the numbers have been stabilizing in recent weeks and remain quite low.

Due to the COVID issue, four referendums set for August 28 have been postponed until December 18, according to Taiwan’s electoral authority.

“Given that the referendum day will be the country’s largest movement and gathering of people, at this time of the pandemic spreading it is advisable to avoid the serious consequences of an outbreak from people getting together,” commission chairman Lee Chin-yung said.

The two most important ones are on whether to ban pork containing a leanness-enhancing additive, while the other concerns whether to change the site of a planned new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to protect the maritime environment.

Last year, the government approved pork containing ractopamine, which is banned in the European Union and China though widely used in the United States, despite the objections of the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, on safety grounds.

Speaking shortly before Lee and at a separate news conference, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the market at the centre of the new outbreak has been closed for three days, and there were likely to be more infections confirmed as the results of tests came through.

“We’ve been continuing tests this morning,” he continued, “so we can’t rule out new cases.”

Chen disclosed 57 additional domestic cases, but claimed the official number had yet to include 41 cases from the market. The crimes were only acknowledged by Taipei’s city government early Friday morning.

The market is located in Taipei’s Wanhua area, which was the epicenter of many of the initial cases in May.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Taiwan has had 14,911 infections, with 676 deaths.

  • Reuters