A college student complained that food delivered by her family while she resided in a quarantine facility was opened, dug through, and crushed by quarantine personnel, making her feel that she was being treated like a criminal, but the Minister of Health and Welfare said that this was “necessary.”
The college student revealed the information along with pictures on the student-oriented social media platform “D-card,” on February 17th. The pictures showed that packets of snacks such as potato chips were opened, biscuits and pastries crushed and broken, and even rice dishes dug through by quarantine personnel before being delivered to the quarantined resident’s room. “They totally treat us like prisoners,” the quarantined student said.
The student explained that she had been placed in the quarantine center because contact tracing had shown that she had been in contact with a confirmed COVID case. The order had been sudden, and she didn’t have time to prepare food, and therefore relied on her family to send her daily supplies. The crushed biscuits, broken chocolate, and overturned rice looked barely edible, she complained.
The revelation sparked heated debates on Taiwan’s popular bulletin board PTT, where many people expressed disbelief and disgust. “Oh my God! Is this really like going to jail at your own expense?” wrote one person. “Is our country really a totalitarian country?” asked another.
However, there were also some people who supported the quarantine facility’s policy. “Actually, it’s quite reasonable, please bear with it,” read one comment. “There are drugs, so the inspection is very reasonable,” said another.
Speaking at a regular press conference yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare, and Central Epidemic Command Center Commander, Chen Shih-chung, said that there had been “many cases” of contraband and drugs being seized before, so inspections were necessary. Management of the quarantine facilities are relatively strict, Chen explained. “The strictness brings safety, but the price is a bit of privacy that may feel violated,” Chen said.
However, considering the feelings expressed by the quarantined student, Chen urged quarantine center personnel to be more sensitive, and try to avoid damage as much as possible.
Some PTT members continued to criticize the practice. “Who are you Chen Shih-chung, rummaging through people’s bags at will? Even police don’t have this power,” one person wrote. “Which court does the Ministry of Health and Welfare rely on to search people’s property?”
“I support anal cavity search to check whether there is hidden drugs in the quarantine hotel,” another PTT member commented sarcastically.
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