Taiwan may allow foreign travelers from island countries, not major cities

CECC mulls reopening borders to island visitors, warns of possible resurgence of pandemic in fall

  15325
Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung. 

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) revealed Sunday (June 21) that health officials have begun discussions about possibly easing border restrictions for visitors from island countries.

During his routine inspection of long-term care facilities in Nantou County, Chen pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic had not shown clear signs of improvement in the past few weeks but that Taiwan has been able to maintain a safe environment thanks to its citizens' respect for government policies. He said border control remains a tough challenge since every country's situation is different, and many factors have to be evaluated.

With regard to the timeline for reopening the country's borders, Chen stated that the CECC is mulling plans to allow visitors from island nations, such as New Zealand. He said large cities and major countries like the U.S. are not currently included in the discussions because it would be too difficult to track the travel histories of individuals coming from those places.

When asked about the effect of the recent heatwave on the outbreak, Chen stressed that summer temperatures are not enough to slow down transmission, despite what some had anticipated. He noted that since most viruses can survive in environments cooler than 50 degrees Celsius, warm weather will not have much of an impact on the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the health minister also warned about a possible resurgence of the outbreak in the fall and said most experts are not too optimistic about the development. He urged Taiwanese to continue to maintain a safe social distance and wear masks when they cannot, reported UDN.

In a phone interview, CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) also said that the government is not considering allowing foreign travelers from large cities because their movements can be complicated to trace. He said the CECC is still exploring different options related to the matter and that it will announce the start of a new phase when it is ready, reported CNA.