TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of National Defense said Saturday (Feb. 22) it was counseling military personnel not to travel to 29 countries, including close ally the United States, due to the high risk of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.
The measure follows reports that three officers in South Korea had been infected, posing a threat to the efficiency of the military, CNA reported. If there is no special reason for a trip, then soldiers should cancel or at least postpone it, the ministry said, adding it had ordered all garrisons to improve virus prevention measures.
The 29 countries on the list ranged from China, Japan and South Korea, each of which has more than 100 cases of the virus, to Finland and Belgium, with just one case each. The list of risk areas also included Canada and the U.S., one of Taiwan’s closest allies and top supplier of military hardware.
Taiwanese officers regularly travel to the U.S. for training, education and discussion of bilateral issues. The ministry emphasized the measures were only advice against travel or transit, and not a complete ban.
Due to national security reasons, the military could not afford any community outbreak of the coronavirus affecting vital operations, including its submarines or the first line of defense on small islands close to China, CNA reported.