US lists Taiwan as low-risk after lifting global 'Do not Travel' advisory

Taiwan one of two countries listed as 'Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions' by State Department

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Taipei skyline at night. 

Taipei skyline at night.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. government has included Taiwan among a select list of low-risk destinations after lifting its global "Do Not Travel" advisory.

Due to an improvement of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in some countries, the U.S. State Department on Thursday (Aug. 6) lifted its global "Do Not Travel" advisory and categorized Taiwan as "Level 1," which means the country is safe. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends avoiding unnecessary travel, with the exception of 20 destinations with low infection rates, including Taiwan.

With the worldwide number of confirmed coronavirus cases approaching 19 million, the U.S. State Department issued a statement on Thursday, saying that after close coordination with the CDC, it decided to lift its Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory. Due to the rapid spread of the epidemic in the U.S., the State Department on March 11 issued a global Level 3: Reconsider Travel warning, advising American citizens to reconsider traveling abroad.

A little over a week later on March 19, the State Department raised the global travel alert status to Level 4: Do Not Travel and advised "U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19." Nearly five months later, with some countries such as Taiwan bringing the outbreak under control, while others struggle with ever-rising infections, the State Department on Thursdays decided to shift to a country-specific approach and issued the following statement:

"With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions."

Currently, only Macau and Taiwan appear to be on the State Department's Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions category, with even New Zealand labeled Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. As for the CDC, Taiwan is one of seven destinations that are considered low-risk for COVID-19 infection, while China is among over 200 destinations that are still considered high-risk.

At the time of publication, Taiwan had 477 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with seven deaths. Currently, Taiwan does not allow foreigners to apply to visit the country for tourism or "social visits."

All other foreigners wishing to visit Taiwan must provide a certificate showing a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued within three days of their flight. Upon arrival visitors much undergo a mandatory 14-day-quarantine, with the exception of business travelers from low- to medium- risk countries.

According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. is still the global leader in coronavirus infections, with about 4.86 million confirmed cases and nearly 160,000 deaths. Currently, the U.S. prohibits foreign visitors who have been to China, Brazil, Iran, and most European countries in the previous 14 days.