16,000 March arrivals in Taiwan face self-quarantine

16,000 who traveled in 27 European countries, Turkey, Egypt, and Dubai arrived in Taiwan March 3-14

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(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An estimated 16,000 people who arrived in Taiwan from 27 European countries, Egypt, Turkey, and Dubai between March 5 and 14 must now self-quarantine at home for 14 days, with those who cooperate eligible for compensation, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Wednesday (March 18).

After a sharp increase in the number of imported COVID-19 cases, the CECC announced on Tuesday (March 17) that it would conduct extensive screenings of those who were recently in Europe, which is currently a hot spot for the pandemic, CNA reported. On Wednesday, the command center announced a new measure to trace people's recent travel history.

CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that the center has a list of every arrival from 27 European countries as well as Dubai, Egypt, and Turkey from March 3 to 14. Those who report to their local government of their own accord will be awarded quarantine compensation, while those who lie about their travel history will be fined, Chen added.

He went on to say that those who do not voluntarily report to authorities for home quarantine will be disqualified from the stipend.

The 27 European countries include France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) cited statistics showing that about 16,000 people entered Taiwan from the 27 European countries plus Dubai, Egypt, and Turkey during that period of time. He urged them to report for home quarantine by calling 1999 or visiting the websites of the Ministry of the Interior, county, or city governments.

With regard to testing, CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that no matter which countries people flew in from, they will be tested for the disease if they present symptoms or are recommended by a physician to do so, the report said

He added that testing will only apply to those with symptoms or who are at risk of contracting the virus and that there is currently no plan to test every citizen at the moment, as false negatives could be problematic for those who have the virus but are asymptomatic.