Taiwan issues warning against visiting popular beaches

Kenting overrun by tourists during 4-day holiday despite coronavirus pandemic

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Crowds in Kenting on April 2

Crowds in Kenting on April 2 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday (April 4) took the unprecedented step of texting a nationwide warning advising people not to travel to the beach resort town of Kenting in Pingtung County and to 10 other popular destinations, due to the danger of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

With the country in the middle of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Holiday, shopping malls in the capital of Taipei were almost deserted. However, pictures emerged of crowds jamming the streets of Kenting, a small town near Taiwan’s southernmost tip that is popular for its sandy beaches.

“If you haven’t gone there yet, don’t go,” CECC chief and Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told a news conference in Taipei. The first of two text messages also named Alishan, and several night markets, temples, harbors and national scenic areas as places to avoid. People should keep a “social distance” of 1.5 meters inside and 1 m outside, the text reminded recipients.

A second message advised against visiting parts of Pingtung County south of Nanzhou Township, warning that destinations in the Kenting area were already crowded, CNA reported. On Saturday, the CECC announced that seven more people had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, taking the total for Taiwan to 355.