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US donates Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan as senators visit
Senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons wave next to Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy. Photo: Reuters

Three US senators arrive in Taiwan and say a large donation of Covid-19 vaccines is coming to help people cope with the island’s first serious outbreak

(AF) The US will donate 750,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan, in another signal of its support for Taipei.

The announcement by three US senators during a high-profile visit to Taipei on Sunday came just days after Japan donated 1.2 million jabs as Taiwan grapples with its first large-scale Covid-19 outbreak.

“It was critical to the US that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines because we recognise your urgent need and we value this partnership,” Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic senator from Illinois, said on her arrival in Taipei on Sunday.

Duckworth and two other senators arrived in Taipei on a US Air Force transport aircraft from South Korea, the first US military plane to land in Taiwan since a disaster relief mission following a 1999 earthquake.

US officials usually charter private jets for their unofficial visits to Taiwan, which is not formally recognised by the US.

Last week, Taipei accused Beijing of interfering in its efforts to secure jabs

NEW CASES

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) announced 343 new locally transmitted cases on Sunday, following 476 new cases the previous day. The agency also announced 37 more deaths.

Taiwan has reported more than 11,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, with more than 250 deaths.

Taipei largely contained coronavirus last year but an outbreak which began in May has started spreading into some factories in the electronics industry, the backbone of the country’s booming export sector.

Taiwan health authorities at the weekend ordered employers to cease moving migrant workers between factories in a bid to control a surge of coronavirus.

The CECC said that from Saturday migrant workers could not be transferred to new employers, or dispatched to different factories by the same employer.

With reporting by Reuters

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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