Taiwan to stay closed to foreign visitors until standards set: CECC

CECC head says standardization, transparency must be achieved before Taiwan opens borders to foreign visitors

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Arriving passengers hand in health clearance forms on March 18.

Arriving passengers hand in health clearance forms on March 18. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head on Thursday (May 7) said Taiwan will not open its borders to foreign visitors until other countries adopt standard and transparent measures to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) via air travel.

When asked during his daily press conference on Thursday afternoon how Taiwan plans to open its transportation networks to international travelers, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that no decision has been made yet. He stated that opening the borders to foreign visitors will ultimately depend on the credibility of their countries' data.

Chen said that one of the biggest questions is whether the information provided by other countries is reliable. Chen then elaborated:

"That is to say, for countries with clear information, we can make some clear regulations in accordance with the characteristics of the disease and infectiousness. Is the data of some countries reliable or not? Or is there any data at all. So in the future, of course, we will carry out a scientific analysis of data that is credible and definitive. As for data that is not credible, we may need to have further discussions."

Another future question is whether to implement special protective measures to improve the safety of the aircraft based on the situations of different countries, said Chen. As to Taiwan's participation in the proposed "travel bubble" between Australia and New Zealand, Chen said he believes this is a direction that can be developed in the future.

However, he said that he is still worried about "how to make everyone's standards more uniform." Furthermore, Chen said it is really difficult to make the information "transparent, credible, and exchangeable."

He pointed out that coordinating epidemic prevention safety standards with countries will be very difficult: "We must take into account many aspects at the same time, but in the end, we will definitely come to a consensus," said Chen.

As for Taiwanese returning from abroad, Chen said the basic concept is that those who are "diagnosed and still in isolation" cannot return to Taiwan and must continue to be treated in that given country. In addition, due to the different isolation standards in each country, foreign experts should provide quantitative standards to the CECC to assure the safety of the Taiwanese citizen, said Chen.