CECC and Changhua County at odds
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), last week decided to launch an investigation into the Changhua County Health Bureau, saying it was not clear why the bureau had tested an asymptomatic teenager for COVID-19 after his recent return from the United States.
The CECC became aware of Changhua’s testing program when they were alerted about this case, as the teen had tested positive.
Chen said the purpose of the investigation was not to penalize anyone but rather to find out what really happened, how many other tests had been conducted and if they had followed CECC protocols.
He also said he must be fully informed of all COVID-19 measures taken by local health authorities.
The Changhua County Public Health Bureau Director vigorously defended his decision, saying if he could turn back the clock, he’d do it again.
His cause was picked up by Changhua County Commissioner Wang Hui-mei and various other KMT heavyweights, including Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen.
They praised Changhua for taking proactive steps, and called for more widespread testing.
Chen, however, poured cold water on such a move, saying the CECC believes that such testing could produce many false positive and false negative results, creating “a very difficult burden” for the health authorities.
He also revealed the ethics probe had found Changhua’s testing to be “flawed”, but not illegal.
Mass test results mysteriously withheld
The results report of a large-scale testing program for COVID-19 antibodies by National Taiwan University’s (NTU) College of Public Health in collaboration with Changhua County, originally scheduled to be made public Tuesday, was abruptly canceled.
NTU said the delay was caused by a lack of time to complete “administrative tasks.”
They also refused to specify when the results would be released.
The delay came after a week in which the Central Epidemic Command Center (CEEC), Taiwan’s top official government body combating the COViD-19 pandemic, was increasingly critical of the Changhua test program.
On Monday the CEEC called for further explanation as to why the press conference to disclose the results was canceled.
Given the media attention and public interest the testing program has generated, the college should reveal its results or explain why it is unable to do so, said a CECC spokesperson, citing Chen Shih-chung’s opinion.
F-16 repair shop to open
President Tsai Ing-wen will inaugurate the Asia Pacific’s first F-16 maintenance and repair center in Taichung this Friday.
The centre is part of a “strategic alliance” agreement signed in December between Taiwan’s state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) and Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-16s.
The new facility will handle all repairs to the 66 F-16V jets that Taiwan last year purchased from the US, as well as handling upgrades on the military’s 142 standard F-16 jets.
Being the first in the Asia Pacific, there is some speculation that some other countries could send their F-16s to Taiwan for repair, though China would no doubt raise considerable opposition to that.
Taipower experimenting with cows
State-run utility Taipower is experimenting with PV installations on land used for cattle grazing at a former mining waste disposal site in rural Shuili, Nantou County.
The Taiwan Council of Agriculture is supporting the project, which has been designed to determine whether cows can be used instead of lawnmowers to control weed growth.
The company is deploying a 9 MW solar plant at the site.
Initially, two cows will be brought to the site.
The PV panels have been installed at a height of more than 3 meters to allow the cows to graze beneath them.
The mounting structures are also not stuck into the ground, but are placed within special concrete bases, which can be easily removed.
Taipower said the special design will reduce the environmental impact of the project.
Taichung gets first Michelin-starred restaurants
After earlier releasing their Bib Gourmand picks, the Michelin Guide has finally announced Taichung’s first four Michelin-starred restaurants.
The highest ranked restaurant, with two stars, was JL Studio, led by Singaporean chef Jimmy Lim (林恬耀).
The three one-starred restaurants were Fleur de Sel, Forchetta and Oretachi No Nikuya.
Oretachi No Nikuya’s chef-owner Sam Chung also received the inaugural Michelin Young Chef Award this year, with the guide praising him “for his passion for ingredients, skillful techniques, and personal interaction with diners, making the dining experience all the more convivial and enjoyable.”
The award is given to a chef who is under 36 years old and working in one of the Michelin Star restaurants in the year’s selection.
Mayor Lu Shiow-yen said this helps raise Taichung’s international profile, and hopes the city will get more foodie tourists.