Friday, February 28, 2020

Taiwan adds two more confirmed Covid-19 cases

Photo: Focus Taiwan

Taiwan today added two more Covid-19 cases to their tally, increasing the number to 34. Confirmed case 33 is a fella in his 30's who returned from a trip to Japan (where I was booked to go, but thankfully the company I booked with cancelled our return flight, so we cancelled our trip and got refunded).

He reported himself as being sick on his return from Japan, and said that he was in a group tour with 31 people. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) have determined that the timeline he give them means the likelihood is that he caught the virus on his trip to Japan, in Osaka. The exact location of the holiday I had looking forward to for months! Thanks Covid-19 for ruining it.

The other case - number 34, was a woman in her 50's with a history of chronic illness. She has no case history of travel abroad, and the CDC workers are currently trying to trace her timeline to figure out who she has came into contact with other than the care workers who have been treating and looking after her.

From reading what little info has been released on the two cases myself, it seems that case 33 has a chance of infecting his tour group, which is unclear now if they are Taiwanese, or if the tour was a group tour from Taiwan. The potential for the flight to have someone else infected seems high, is a logical thought process.

The other case, number 34 seems like she may have spent a lot of times in hospitals and being cared for, which shows that the temperature checks put in place at hospitals aren't that great when it comes down to spotting who is infected and who isn't.

The potential is extremely high for a lot of people to be infected in the hospital, for example, if she infects some doctors, then just think how many people a doctor will have contact with for the 14 day incubation period to set in.

The risk for a big spread of infections, that have been seen in Italy, Japan, Korea, Iran and China is getting higher each day in Taiwan. The fight continues to not let it happen, but as each week passes it becomes more difficult.

I also read in the Guardian that masks do help a bit, and no matter what people are telling you online, it is worse than seasonal flu! Any little help a mask gives us for not getting infected is worth it, but the key point is wash your hands often and don't rub your eyes, or face often without washing your hands.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The underbelly of Taiwanese society rears its Brexit crew styled head with patient 32

Taiwan is a fine place, generally, most people who come here to visit, work or for whatever other reason enjoy it, and the majority of Taiwanese people are friendly to all visitors regardless of nationality, race, or sexuality.

Then there are the others, when you scrape the surface there are a discriminatory and arrogant minority. This minority, tend to look down on South East Asian labour at best, and at worst are outright racist or abusive to them.

This hypocrisy is often witnessed and is very real. Folk are happy to have a cheap imported workforce, or people willing to do the jobs that Taiwanese aren't willing to do, but equally happy to point the finger when any 'issue' arises or is 'created'. They are akin to the Brexit Crew in their views of immigrants.

Today the news has been awash with one such case, Taiwan's CDC (Center for Disease Control) released the locations where patient 32 had been in Taipei and New Taipei City. It then transpired that patient 32 turned out to be an illegal immigrant working as a carer for the elderly.

She was caring for the old chap in the latest family cluster, however once it became aware the whole family was infected with COVID-19, afraid of being found out that she was illegal, and obviously worried. So she did what most illegal workers will often do in similar circumstances, she did a runner.

Then what happened next, is an indicator of how happy Taiwanese are to hire an illegal worker, she had already found another job caring for an old codger in some other family. Families are happy to hire an undocumented worker, but equally as happy to lay the blame at their door too. If the family had have got the worker the correct documents then she wouldn't have felt the need to run off in the first place.

The internet has been in a rage with how this 'illegal' ran away when she found out the family was infected, but also they're in a rage because she live streamed herself in quarantine, and some crafty bastard saw on the drip that the hospital name she was at was wrote on it. Which she also got blamed for. Should she have been live streaming, probably not. Is it crime of the century, probably not. But it does show Taiwan's underbelly regarding the fascination with 'cheapness' in regards to their attitude about hiring 'cheap labour', but are equally as quick to throw them on under the bus too.

The lady didn't order the infection on Shopee, she caught it while not being supported by the family for legal documents therefore not really being protected by the any kind of laws, all while caring for Taiwan's elderly, something Taiwanese families don't seem overly keen to do themselves.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Breakdown of Taiwan's COVID-19 cases

Infographic: CNA

Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) have released a new infographic showing the breakdown of all the COVID-19 cases that are currently confirmed in Taiwan. As of the 25th February 2020, there are 32 confirmed cases, with the most recent case being a foreign caregiver who was taking care of patient 27.

As is clear on the infographic, the last nine confirmed cases, the source of infection is unknown. This is a worrying turn of events, because until case 24, the Centre for Disese Control (CDC) mostly managed to locate the original source of infection for the majority of cases.

For now, the last 9 infections are at least all infected, in a case that is determined a 'family cluster' but the worry is it may turn into 'community infection'. How these two differentiate is that a 'family cluster' is infections spreading through families only, but on the other hand a 'community cluster' is a host of cases spreading through a whole community, like what has been seen in the cult church in South Korea, which shows how tragic a 'community cluster' can end up. South Korea had 51 confirmed cases this time last week, then after a 'community cluster' confirmed cases in South Korea are now over 1000 and increasing each day.

This shows how quickly the virus is spreading once it gets into the community. Therefore the major concern regarding the last 9 cases are that the CDC cannot locate the source of this families' infection. What does this mean for Taiwan? Does that mean the virus is already spreading in the community already? If so we could see cases increase daily.

What apparently bumped the infection numbers in Korea, and Italy was a super spreader. This is someone with a high viral load, who infects more people than the median. If the coronavirus is spreading in Taiwan (because it has been reported that people can have no symptoms but be infected) all it would take for the numbers to blast up like Korea and Italy would be one of these super spreaders.

In my opinion, the virus has broke past the CDC's superb efforts in Taiwan to keep the Coronavirus out, but people getting infected without knowing where from is a big red flag which is a major concern.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Desensitized to Traffic Accidents

Photo: Focus Taiwan

I have lived in Taiwan for 8 years and counting, and in that time I have seen copious amounts of traffic accidents, either the accident itself or the aftermath with scooters, cars and people smashed and broken strewn all around the road.

I don't recall seeing one accident in all my time living in the UK but for all my time living there, I didn't drive so I guess if I did drive i'd probably have the seen the odd few but nothing on the scale of what I see on a weekly basis since I began riding around on a scooter in Taiwan. My guess is I see 3 to 5 crashes or aftermaths of a crash a week, and that is an insanely high number when you consider I often just hop on my scooter head to work and back most days.

I myself have been involved in a handful of 'crashes' I see it lightly because I only consider one of them to be mildly serious, the others were more like bumps of some sort. If the guy I hit in the slightly serious one wanted to press charges I would likely have been blamed for it, but I would only put my portion of the blame between 10% to 30% per cent because of how ridiculous it was. 

It was pissing it with rain, and I was heading home from my morning job, I wasn't speeding or going slow; I was simply just keeping the same speed with the rest of the traffic heading in the same direction. As I got closer to my home, and looked forward to getting out of the pissing rain the guy in front of me did something completely moronic, as the traffic approached an intersection, the lights began to change to red. The guy in front of me however was right at the traffic light and when it switched from green to amber, he slammed his break on to skid to a stop in front of me. The word that come out of my mouth at this point was fuuuuuuuuuuck! And I tried to quickly turn to the left to avoid him, but if you have no experience of riding any kind of bike or other two wheeled vechile you cannot suddenly turn left at speed otherwise you will come off anyway regardless what you try to stop it happening.

As I tried to swing left and avoid the moron while attempting to also break without killing myself in the process the front right side of my scooter slammed into the bloke in front of me. I don't recall how it happened as I just closed my eyes and braced for impact once I realised I had no chance of missing the idiot. Next thing I recall I'm picking myself off the floor, as the traffic is flying at me in the middle of the road. Yes, that's correct even though I am dragging myself off the floor and the other bloke looks like he could be dead due to being motionless - the traffic is still flying at us at great speeed. 

I run out of the road, then shake the bloke shouting mate, don't die alright! Whatever you do just don't die man! He eventually got up, and I dragged him out of the middle of the road, then he give me some abuse for not seeing him and being an idiot. It's not that I didn't see him, of course I saw him, avoiding him wasn't easy though obviously. Then he rode off continuing to insult me for how stupid I am. Lovely pal, just lovely. My scooter was broke...all the bearings were shot, but I was alive and unhurt result! 

The other times were mainly just bumps, a taxi turned into me, when I had nowhere to move to because I was blocked in the road by other traffic. Apparently, according to the taxi driver; he did nothing wrong because he indicated and I should have moved out of his way. I had a car in front of me, a car behind me, a scooter to the left, scooter right, front and back. So how exactly do I move out of his way, I can't exactly levitate. 

The next time, there was a granny coming at me slowly on her scooter, but she wasn't watching the traffic she was staring in the food shops looking for something to eat, all while driving down the road paying no attention. Luckily I realised she was gonna smash right into me so I prepared myself to boot her when she got close. 1, 2, 3, hooooooof ya bastard! Pay attention! She basically shouted at me, "What the fuck are you doing?" 

After that I was going somewhere with my pal from the UK in Muzha, and a taxi changed his mind in the middle of the road so he turned left then decided he wanted to go right and went right. We were right beside him when he changed his mind, and then I also went as far right as I could but if I went any further I would have been charging right into oncoming traffic. The taxi started crushing my leg, so I started booting his taxi door. All this was happening while moving along the road and trying to avoid being smashed into by oncoming traffic. Eventually he stopped, got out walked to me..."I shouted I'm going to rip your head off!" He quickly got back into his taxi and drove off. My pal was shaken but fine, my leg hurt for a week and half or something but I was fine. 

and the last time, and hopefully the last time ever, I tried to turn left and some guy tried to undercut me and the mrs. He wasn't on the road when I turned but he was flying and when I saw him I just braced for impact and made sure I held the scooter upright so we didn't come off. Everything hurt after that but it would have been worse being smashed off, and I wasn't in the mood for letting that happen. The police told me that I was wrong because I didn't give way to the person coming from behind me. This sounds like total bullshit, which I told the police fella very angrily but the mrs was getting annoyed with me being furious with the police so I accepted the shit offer the dickhead was willing to pay to fix my scooter. It's a good job the mrs was there to be fair otherwise I would have likely manhandled the guy that hit me, as well as the police bloke because of the level of nonsense I was dealing with. 

So those are the crashes and bumps I myself have been involved in, now onto some of the incidents I have witnessed. There is no way I can recount them all, because over the space of 7 years riding a scooter in Taiwan there is just simply too many to remember. Some of the worst and stupidiest ones however are etched into my memory forever, until the day I am 12ft under ground. 

The first terrible one I saw, I was coming home from a job in Xinzhuang, and as I was going past the big Ikea out that way, a car comes flying up the other side of road does a u turn into our side of the road without looking and just smashes right through the scooter in front of me. If I had have been two seconds faster he would have hit me. The bloke in the car didn't look or care, he just turned and was going to Ikea whoever was in his way. Unfortunately the scooter in front of me was in his way, and you gotta get those Swedish meatballs at all costs man, even if it involves near killing someone. 

One day on my way to football in Yonghe, I was sat at the traffic lights, and you could hear the sirens of an ambulance hurtling down the road. For some mental reason a taxi driver decided that he could beat the ambulance and make it across the road, but yep you guessed it the taxi driver succeeded in coming out and smashing right into the ambulance. That level of stupid takes some work to achieve I guess, but he had the audacity to get out of the taxi and shout at the ambulance driver. Even the taxi passenger was screaming at the ambulance driver because she had a small cut on her leg, never mind the fact the ambulance had someone in the back and was clearly taking them to hospital. 

Another time, I was off out with the mrs, and we were in the Zhongshan area going for some food. I heard a massive screech and as I turned and looked I saw a car go over a scooter and bloke. From what I saw it looked like the car or the scooter broke a red light and tried to beat the traffic. I turned too late and didn't see who was right or wrong, just the car going over man and scooter. That shook me up a bit seeing that. 

I saw the aftermath of two crashes that looked brutal, both times the scooter was lodged underneath a back wheel. One was a car, the other was a bin truck. Imagine that, even seeing the mess left behind was brutal, the scooter was under the back wheel of a bloody bin truck god knows what happened to the person on top of the scooter. 

A week or so ago me and the mrs saw the aftermath of a crash, and there was a woman lying in the middle of the road completely passed out, motionless and not looking in a good way. We hoped she would be ok, but its not good seeing that. 

Other than these that I have listed, I see the aftermath of crashes pretty much on a daily basis going to and from work. The odd thing is, Taiwan's law says if there is a crash that nothing can be moved until the police come and have a look at the scene. So if there is a crash, you can't move the car or the scooter from the middle of the road, this means all the traffic is still coming at you while you're stood in the middle of the road, that alone is pretty scary, and it also creates a massive hazard. 

When I first started seeing crashes, or aftermaths of accidents I wondered why Taiwanese people never seemed bothered about them, and now I do know why. It is because they're a common every day occurence and now I have become desensitized to traffic accidents in the same way that Taiwanese people obviously have. When I see them I just think nothing of it but another accident. Never thought I would think this way but I do. I wish the police and authorites did more to ensure the traffic functioned in a safer way but they don't and it is what it is. So some of you may think I am mad for continuing to ride my scooter everywhere but at the end of the day I love having my own transport and the freedom it gives me so therefore I tolerate the risks invovled, stay alert and concentrate all the time in an attempt to not be in anymore accidents. 

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