TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided clarifications Monday (Feb. 24) on its controversial policy to ban the country's medical workers from traveling abroad.
Following the CDC's announcement Sunday (Feb. 23) that all medical personnel must remain in Taiwan unless given permission to travel by their supervisors, many health professionals and their supporters expressed disapproval of the new policy and questioned its legality. The National Taiwan University Hospital Union (NTUHUnion) also issued an official statement, criticizing the CDC for not communicating with medical workers before launching the travel ban, reported CTWANT.
During a press conference on Monday, Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the Department of Medical Affairs at the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), explained that only frontline medical workers in hospitals are subject to the new regulation. The medical workers are free to travel to any countries the government has not issued a travel advisory against, he added.
Chung stressed that health professionals working in hospitals are strictly prohibited from entering China, Hong Kong, and Macau. They can, however, ask for permission to travel to countries that are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Iran, and Italy, reported the Liberty Times.
Chung pointed out that the Medical Care Act authorizes the government to issue emergency policies in face of major crises and that medical institutions shall obey directions from the authorities and provide services to the public. He said that the decision was made to minimize the chance of the coronavirus being passed on by health professionals.
Chung assured medical workers that they would not face any form of punishment if they violate the new regulation, but he said he hopes all citizens can understand the reason behind the travel ban. He also noted that the policy will not come into effect until officials have discussed it more thoroughly, reported UDN.