《TAIPEI TIMES》 Britons’ pan of quarantine to BBC ‘not true’
A room at the Hualien County’s quarantine center is pictured in an undated photograph. Photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
FALSE INFORMATION: The report quoted the mother of a British woman quarantined in Taiwan as saying that her daughter and the daughter’s partner are ‘in prison-like conditions’
By Sherry Hsiao and Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporters
A BBC report that quotes Britons’ complaints about quarantine conditions they experienced in Taiwan is not true, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, expressing regret over damage done to the nation’s reputation for competent disease-prevention measures.
The BBC report published on Wednesday quoted the mother of a British woman quarantined in Taiwan as saying that her daughter and the daughter’s partner were quarantined on Wednesday last week and are being kept “in prison-like conditions.”
“The room is filthy. She has no hot water and nowhere to wash her clothes,” the mother was quoted as saying, without naming the location of her quarantine.
Refuting the report at a news conference in Taipei yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中）, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, said that the center “did not mistreat” the couple.
The quarantine center in Hualien County is a renovated school dormitory, which, athough not as comfortable as a hotel, is not “prison-like” or “locked,” as described in the report, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou （歐江安） said in a statement.
The center charges quarantined people NT$267 per day for the accommodation, food and necessary care, she said.
While center personnel did not initially understand the woman’s request for a “gluten-free diet,” they were able to satisfy her request starting with her third meal, Ou said.
The shower in the woman’s single room turned out to be broken, so the center arranged for her to stay in another room and have access to a personal shower, which is different from her claim that there is no hot water, she said.
The woman requested that she and her partner stay in the same room, but that was not approved because of the quarantine rules, Ou said.
Taiwanese are known for their hospitality and the ministry regrets that an internationally renowned media organization did not check the facts with the government before publishing the false information, she added.
Separately yesterday, the British Office Taipei said in a statement that it is assisting the quarantined woman and working with Taiwanese authorities to effectively address her concerns, including the accommodation of her specific dietary requirements.
Taiwanese authorities provided her with a telephone so that she can maintain contact with her family and friends, the office said, adding that its staff members are helping the woman with travel plans for after the quarantine is finished.
A hallway at the Hualien County’s quarantine center is pictured in an undated photograph. Photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs