TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two National Taiwan University (NTU) professors on Monday (June 15) called on the government to issue "immunity passports" among other measures to shorten the quarantine times for foreign students arriving in Taiwan to five days.
During a live-streamed news conference on Monday, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health Vice Dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said that in addition to risk assessment, if foreign students wish to enter Taiwan, they should be able to use "immunity passports," present certificates proving they are not infected with Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), and be tested upon arrival. He said that if the test is negative and the previously mentioned documentation is provided, they should able to shorten their quarantine period to five days.
College of Public Health Dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) cited Brown University President Christina Paxson's safety plan for reopening the school in the fall as a model. For example, before the start of classes, all faculty, staff, and students will be asked to take the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19.
Once classes are in session, all of those who develop symptoms will be tested for the disease while those who show no symptoms will be tested on a random basis. On-campus living arrangments will be carefully managed, and fully online courses and blended learning will be encouraged in order to reduce the number of students in the classroom.
(YouTube, Screenshot NTU)
As for the reopening of classes in Taiwan, Chan said that he believes that a multi-faceted approach should be taken, including PCR testing, contact tracing, dorm management, social distancing, mask-wearing, crowd size limits, online teaching, public health education, preparation for an emergency suspension of classes, and student evacuation plans.
Chen said that a risk assessment should be carried out to decide from which countries students will be allowed to enter Taiwan. According to Ministry of Education data, over 61,970 students participated in degree programs in Taiwan in 2018.
Based on the average number of infections around the world, Chen said that out of 60,000 students, approximately 222 would be infected with the coronavirus. However, Chen said that if students from hotspot countries were barred entry, the number of cases would drop.
He suggested that students could be allowed to arrive in Taiwan through phases based on the level of risk in their country of origin. Those from countries with a lower basic reproduction number of the virus would be allowed to enter first, while those from higher-risk countries would be asked to delay their arrivals or at least undergo the standard quarantine of 14 days.
Chen emphasized that "immunity passports" would be issued to students from low-risk countries who can present a negative PCR test result. Like business travelers, they would then be tested again when they arrive at the airport, undergo a five-day quarantine, and then be released after one more negative test.