Taiwan requires health statements from China, Hong Kong, Macau passengers

Passengers making false health statements to face a maximum penalty of US$5,000

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Health Officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China. 

Health Officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Although the World Health Organization on Thursday (Jan. 23) decided not to declare the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global emergency, Taiwan's customs and quarantine authorities are on guard, announcing that passengers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau must complete a health form upon arrival.

Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Thursday evening that residents of Wuhan will be denied entry and that passengers from elsewhere in China, Hong Kong, and Macau are required to issue a statement of health. Those exhibiting fever and other symptoms related to the mysterious pneumonia-causing virus will be dispatched to isolation wards in hospitals as part of the country's string of precautionary measures to combat its spread.

"Passengers who make false health statements will face a maximum penalty of NT$150,000 (US$5,000)," said Minister of Health and Welfare Dr. Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).

Chinese authorities have imposed a travel ban on residents of Wuhan and expanded it to nearby Huanggang on Thursday. Taiwan's health ministry has also ordered air carriers to deny residents passage from Wuhan to Taiwan. It is believed that the restriction will soon be extended to other Chinese cities on lockdown.

CTWANT reported on Friday (Jan. 24) that six cities adjacent to Wuhan — Ezhou, Chibi, Zhijiang, Xiantao, Lichuan, and Qianjiang — are under a near-lockdown as well for the time being.

At the time of publication, China's public health officials have confirmed 830 cases of the SARS-like illness, a figure that is believed to be grossly underestimated, and 26 deaths. Meanwhile, three cases have been confirmed in Thailand, with two cases each in Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, and one case each in Taiwan, the U.S., Vietnam, and Singapore.