Taiwan raises epidemic response level to highest and prepares US$2 billion package to soften coronavirus hit to its economy

Taiwan has raised its epidemic response level to the highest on Thursday (27 February) as it prepared a package worth US$2 billion to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its export-reliant economy.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said in a cabinet meeting earlier today that the decision was made to allow the government to quickly tackle the coronavirus outbreak with more resources channeled across various ministries, the state’s Central News Agency reported.

The announcement came after the country’s parliament approved a T$60 billion (US$2 billion) package to soften the impact of the virus on its economy. 

The package includes loans for small businesses, subsidies for hard-hit tour agencies, and vouchers to spend on food in the night markets in Taiwan.

The country, whose largest trading partner is China, has cut its estimate for 2020 economic growth this month due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Premier Su noted the sporadic cases of community transmission in the country as Taiwan reported 32 confirmed cases and one death as of today.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the country needs to enhance its defense against the virus.

“We will integrate all government resources to fight against the threats of the coronavirus,” he said, while overseeing troops tasked with disinfection this morning.

In an effort to curb the spread of the infectious disease, the country has imposed restrictions on visitors from China since 26 January, including banning Chinese tour groups and visitors from Hubei from entering the country.

Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) also raised its travel alert for Japan and South Korea to Level 2 on 22 February after confirmed cases in the two countries exceeded the 100 mark.

The country also passed a bill this week to penalize people who violate the government-mandated home quarantine orders, and those who do not comply may possibly face a T$2 million fine or two years in jail.

Furthermore, Taiwan’s government also extended the requisition of all domestically-produced face masks and maintained its ban on export until the end of April in order to ensure sufficient domestic supply amid the outbreak.

Following the requisition and ban on the export of face masks, vice economics minister Wang Mei-hua stated that the measures will only be revoked when the coronavirus situation improves.

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