Catcalls and Jokes After Taiwan’s COVID ‘Regression Calibration’ | World News

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s abrupt decision to add 400 new domestic COVID-19 cases has prompted catcalls from opposition politicians and jokes online about fishy statistics, putting the government on the back foot to explain where the number came from.

Taiwan is dealing with a spike in cases after months of keeping the pandemic well under control, with restrictions in place across the island to limit gatherings.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung announced 721 new domestic infections on Saturday, including 400 infections over the past six days whose positive tests had not been included in previous reports due to a delay following a spike in cases.

Chen said the “regression calibration” was needed to more accurately reflect the state of infections, while the trend was stable.

But the move went down poorly with Taiwan’s opposition parties, who said Chen was inventing words and spreading fear.

“Today the command centre created a new expression, ‘regression calibration’, adding 400 new infections,” Johnny Chiang, chairman of the main opposition party the Kuomintang, wrote on his Facebook page late on Saturday.

“This information has terrified everyone, as the daily numbers being received were inaccurate.”

The small Taiwan People’s Party, led by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, called on the government not to engage in “cognitive warfare”, riffing off accusations Taiwan has levelled at China about spreading propaganda and misinformation.

Ko said the rise in tests and infections was causing delays in reporting numbers to the central government for collation, but added the reporting system needed improving, rather than “creating new expressions”.

The government has strenuously denied a cover-up, saying it is working to improve the reporting and testing system.

“From the central to the local level, no one wants to conceal the pandemic, and no medical staff would conceal the number of confirmed diagnoses,” Premier Su Tseng-chang wrote on his Facebook page.

Still, the term “regression calibration” has caused some amusement online, and black humour.

In one joke, a woman asks her boyfriend how many girlfriends he has had before, to which he replies “just you”.

“After getting married, with regression calibration I’d had about 50.”

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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