TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan and Singapore have expressed gratitude to Taiwan for helping their citizens evacuate from Peru, which imposed travel restrictions due to the escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks in South America.
A commercial flight arranged by Taiwan’s Representative Office in Peru and operated by LATAM Airlines took off on Sunday at dawn (March 29) from Cusco, stopping in Lima before reaching its final destination, Miami. It was boarded by 139 passengers, including 55 Taiwanese, 29 Japanese, 14 Singaporeans, 34 Americans, and seven Malaysians, all of whom had been stranded in the South American nation since it issued a state of emergency.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the friendliness of Taiwan,” said Izumi Hiroyasu, Japanese representative to Taiwan, via Facebook. Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also posted his thanks: “We deeply appreciate the assistance of our Taiwanese friends who welcomed our Singaporeans on board their aircraft.”
“This response to the global coronavirus outbreak proves #TaiwanCanHelp realize #HealthForAll while honoring WHO’s promise to #LeaveNoOneBehind,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) tweeted, a shout out to the United Nations health agency as it continues to block Taiwan’s participation. The charter flight was arranged by the country’s Representative Office in Peru and a local tourist agency in collaboration with the Peruvian authorities and foreign embassies, according to a statement by the ministry.
MOFA said 22 Taiwanese have decided to stay in Peru, adding that it would remain in touch with them and offer assistance if needed. The foreign ministry has helped a total of 127 Taiwanese leave Peru on two charter flights in late March.
More than 100 Taiwanese tourists had previously been stranded in Peru after it stepped up measures in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 800 people across the country as of Monday (March 30). Peru’s state of emergency, which it declared on March 16, has been extended to April 12.