An NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) stabilization package aimed at protecting Taiwan industries from financial fallout caused by the global outbreak of the new coronavirus was unveiled Feb. 13 by the Cabinet.

The initiative, which is a central plank in the government’s response to a possible outbreak of pneumonia stemming from the virus first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, involves all agencies and ministries tasked with keeping Taiwan’s economy in good order.

NT$49.68 billion is earmarked for projects proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. These include NT$4.4 billion for travel agencies to cover partial operating losses, as well as NT$9.83 billion for transportation firms in the form of tax breaks and subsidies to meet expenses like port facility charges, fuel costs, and loan interest.

A further NT$5.45 billion will be used to promote domestic travel and improve related facilities, while NT$30 billion will be spent on designing annual themed travel packages, introducing new technologies and upgrading the tourism industry.

Additional measures centered on softening the impact of the virus on society are under consideration. They are expected to be proposed and reviewed in the following seven days, according to the Cabinet.

Statistics by the Central Epidemic Command Center under the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Centers for Disease Control reveal 18 confirmed cases of the virus in Taiwan as of Feb. 14, with 63,670 identified in China and 565 reported in 26 other countries and territories. (SFC-E)