President, mayors at odds on using face masks

Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the opening ceremony of the Taipei MRT Circular Line on Jan. 31, 2020. (CNA)
Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the opening ceremony of the Taipei MRT Circular Line on Jan. 31, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — To wear or not to wear face masks — that’s the question with which two mayors of northern Taiwan were bombarded at the opening ceremony of the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Circular Line (環狀線) on Friday.

The public has been asked to caution crowded areas with poor air circulation as the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus reached nine on Thursday, of which two were domestic human-to-human transmissions.

Against this backdrop, reporters pressed hard on New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on whether President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should have worn a face mask earlier that day.

President Tsai was officiating at the opening of the highly-anticipated circular line that connects the south-west regions of the greater Taipei area and Taoyuan International Airport on Friday.

Tsai gave a speech at Friday’s press conference but skipped media interviews. She was not seen wearing a face mask despite growing concerns on the novel coronavirus outbreak.

According to Hou, more than 90 percent of commuters that ride the MRT every day wear masks. His take on face masks aligned with Ko’s, which is that one should put on a mask at crowded areas, he added.

“It is the way to protect ourselves,” Hou said.

On whether Tsai should wear a mask in public, Ko said with a smile that “she doesn’t need to wear one since we all do.”

Meanwhile, Ko called upon Beijing to not exclude Taiwan from the World Health Organization (WHO, 世界衛生組織), saying that “even two countries at war refrain from bombing hospitals.”

“Taiwan must not be excluded from the global health system,” Ko said.

President Tsai said earlier that day that “as a New Taipei City local myself, I feel strongly for the need for infrastructures in New Taipei City.”

She asked New Taipei City Mayor Hou to “rest assure” that the central government will provide full assistance and support the construction of the city.

Following the opening ceremony, the first phase of the MRT Circular Line officially began operations in the afternoon.