The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has decided to suspend the COVID-19 testing of all travelers arriving from the Philippines, except for those with symptoms, beginning Thursday, but said it will require all travelers from the Philippines be tested before their mandatory 14-day quarantine period ends.
The changes were agreed after considering epidemic hazard, the characteristic of the novel coronavirus disease, and testing efficiency, Health Minister and CECC commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
On July 26, Taiwan began requiring all travelers from the Philippines -- with or without COVID-19 symptoms -- to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.
As of Sept. 20, a total of 1,238 travelers from the Southeast Asian country had been tested, the center said in a press release.
Based on the figures, 17.6 percent of those with COVID-19 symptoms tested positive, "clearly" higher than the 0.7 percent for those without symptoms whose tests came back positive, the center said.
After consulting with experts, the CECC decided to adjusted its screening measure targeting travelers from the Philippines, Chen said, noting that starting on Sept. 24, only those with symptoms will be required to receive a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
However, all travelers from the Philippines -- with or without COVID-19 symptoms -- still have to be isolated for 14 days at designated quarantine centers and be tested before the isolation period ends, Chen said.
Data from the Philippine Department of Health shows that as of Sept. 22, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection has reached 291,789, with 5,049 deaths.