Taiwan health minister reassures safety of allowing foreigners seeking medical care

CECC head says no foreign nationals allowed entry into Taiwan unless they test negative for coronavirus

Taiwan to allow entry of foreign nationals seeking medical care starting Aug 1. 

Taiwan to allow entry of foreign nationals seeking medical care starting Aug 1.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Minister of Health and Welfare and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Wednesday (July 29) reassured the public that there is no danger in allowing the entry of foreign nationals seeking medical care into the country after receiving criticism for the decision.

Last week the CECC made the announcement that Taiwan will start opening its doors to foreign visitors seeking medical help under certain circumstances from Aug 1. It said that the foreign patients could apply for treatment requests in all areas of healthcare, except physical health checks and cosmetic surgery.

Although the CECC had described the decision as a humanitarian act, a number of hospital workers and medical experts have voiced their opposition, questioning whether it leaves Taiwan more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Some also pointed out that such a move would put the country's frontline workers at greater risk, according to UDN.

In response to the backlash, Chen promised at Wednesday's press conference that the new measure would not bring coronavirus into the country. He stressed that there are strict requirements that need to be met before individuals would be permitted to enter Taiwan, such as the need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight and a thorough quarantine plan for the first 14 days after their arrival.

Chen said that all individuals wishing to seek treatment in Taiwan must test negative for coronavirus and their applications must be filed by their hospitals. He added that so far the Taiwanese government has received seven applications, including ones related to a brain tumor, lung cancer, and liver cancer, reported New Talk.

CECC official Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) also reassured that the government will consider the pandemic situation and make adjustments accordingly. He said that only a few foreigners are expected to visit Taiwan for medical purposes during the pandemic, and many who will apply are most likely patients with acute disease, reported CNA.