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Epidemic control, relief and stimulus: three weapons to defeat COVID-19

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday called for responsible ministries and agencies to work urgently to identify people and businesses deserving of government relief, and prepare in advance the necessary approvals and paperwork, in order to leap into action at the earliest opportunity.

Premier Su's remarks came at Thursday's weekly meeting of the Cabinet following presentations on the COVID-19 outbreak and the government's response by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on the status of the ministry's 1988 economic relief and stimulus hotline.

The premier emphasized three overarching strategies for the undertaking: epidemic control, industry relief and economic stimulus, saying that all parts of government must implement each strategy thoroughly to assist the people and businesses of Taiwan emerge triumphant from these current challenges.

Beyond of course the immediate need to bring the epidemic under control, the most pressing task now is to deliver much-needed relief to industry and the public, said Premier Su. The Legislature took action in March to pass the special act on COVID-19 prevention, relief and recovery, approving a special budget of NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) to fund the government's fight against COVID-19. The Executive Yuan has since passed to the Legislature for review a bill that would allow for an increase in the special budget by NT$150 billion (US$5 billion). The premier said that he now looks forward to the ruling and opposition parties building a rapid consensus to pass the proposal and provide the desperately needed assistance to businesses and industries for the rocky road ahead.

As the coronavirus continues to ravage other parts of the globe, Taiwan is one of very few countries that have managed to maintain a normal way of life with freedom of movement. The general public also enjoys the lowest-priced surgical masks in the world.

Taiwan has also kicked off a large-scale humanitarian aid campaign to donate high-quality face masks to countries in need, who in turn have offered copious thanks and appreciation. The premier said foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy, and Taiwan has fought a difficult battle for many years. Today the results are palpable to countries around the world: Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping.

Additionally, bars and nightclubs across the country have agreed to temporary closures in support of the government's measures against mass infections, Premier Su said. And with COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in Southeast Asia, he directed the Ministry of Labor to address concerns about the lifestyles and housing conditions of migrant workers to prevent cluster transmissions.

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