TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (Nov. 18) announced new measures to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus this winter, when cases around the globe are expected to spike.
During his weekly press conference Wednesday afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced the details of the "Autumn and Winter Epidemic Prevention Project." The new policy will go into effect on Dec. 1 and will focus on three areas: border quarantine measures, community epidemic prevention, and medical response.
Border quarantine measures
All inbound and transit passengers must submit a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test report within three days of their flight to Taiwan.
Chen pointed out that the pandemic continues to be severe and that the number of incoming passengers is expected to increase at the end of this year and early next year.
In order to strengthen epidemic prevention, from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, 2021, all passengers, regardless of nationality or purpose of arrival, who enter or transit through Taiwan’s airports must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test three days before their scheduled flight to Taiwan. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications will supervise airlines to ensure the veracity of the test reports.
If a passenger is found to have submitted a false test report or refuses, evades, or obstructs relevant quarantine measures, they will be subject to a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$350) to NT$150,000. Those caught creating a false test report will also be held criminally responsible for the offense of forging instruments or seals (偽造文書印文罪).
Community epidemic prevention
Masks must be worn when entering and leaving eight categories of places.
Starting on Dec. 1, masks will be mandatory in eight categories of places, including medical care facilities, mass transit, personal consumption locations, educational institutions, exhibitions and sporting events, entertainment and leisure venues, houses of worship, and public service and customer service centers. Those who fail to wear masks in these contexts and do not heed requests to do so will face a fine of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 for violating the "Communicable Disease Control Act" (傳染病防治法).
Chen explained that there is a high risk of infection and transmission in the above places, as it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close contact with others. Therefore, the masks can not only help prevent COVID-19 but also protect against other kinds of diseases transmitted by droplets.
If there is a need to eat or drink in the above settings, masks can be temporarily removed on the condition that a proper social distance is maintained or that appropriate barrier equipment is in place.
The CECC is aiming to strengthen notifications and testing and establish rewards for hospitals that test patients.
In order to prevent the medical system from facing the double burden of the Wuhan coronavirus and influenza this autumn and winter, Chen explained that the special project will bolster notifications and testing — both important parts of the epidemic prevention strategy.
Chen said four measures have been developed:
- Medical institutions implementing mandatory notification of infectious diseases
- Reward criteria for "strengthening screening of pneumonia patients in outpatient and emergency clinics," "strengthening inpatient screening," and "strengthening health monitoring of medical care workers"
- Enhanced notification and testing through the health insurance system reminder
- Revising inspection and related processing procedures for persons without COVID-19-related symptoms undergoing home quarantine/isolation
The CECC has advised clinicians to be vigilant, strengthen notifications and testing, and strengthen community monitoring to report or refer suspected cases. At the same time, it maintains that local governments should continue to supervise medical institutions under their jurisdiction and consolidate the epidemic prevention capabilities of those facilities.