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Premier calls for united nationwide effort to combat new virus

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Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday said that a cooperative nationwide effort is necessary to effectively combat and contain the novel coronavirus that has emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Taiwan must come together at the central, local and inter-regional levels to make comprehensive preparations and achieve thorough, tight-knit implementation on the ground.

The premier's remarks came at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet following a presentation by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the current status of the outbreak and measures required.

On January 27 the World Health Organization clarified that its risk assessment for the new virus is "high" at the global level and "very high" in China. Premier Su said that given Taiwan's proximity to the mainland and particularly the close and extensive ties between the people of both sides, the threat the outbreak poses here is especially severe, and there is no room for complacency in the government's response.

The experience of the SARS pandemic 17 years ago taught the government that even with strict screening and quarantine measures at ports of entry, such new viruses inevitably slip through, the premier said. Now that this has proven true, it is time for the people of Taiwan to work hand in hand on preventing further spread and putting an end to the outbreak.

All central and local-level chiefs must complete medium and long-term preparations, directed Premier Su. This work should encompass both the management of facilities and related activities, as well as the allocation of personnel and resources, coupled with border screening and isolation measures. The premier likened the campaign to war, with the government arming a united public with the proper transmission-fighting tools as all units mount battle stations ready to fully counter and successfully defend against an invisible enemy.

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