TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Health minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Thursday (Nov. 19) emphasized that the quarantine period for returning Taiwanese will not be shortened and that citizens who are overseas should come home early for the Lunar New Year holiday.
In response to the recent global upsurge in coronavirus cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced Wednesday (Nov. 18) that effective Dec. 1, all travelers to Taiwan, regardless of nationality, will be required to present proof of a negative coronavirus test within three days of their departure. For people who have difficulty obtaining a COVID-19 test, such as those coming for an emergency and crew members on ships, tests can be administered upon arrival.
During a radio interview with Hit FM host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on Thursday, Chen said the government has no plans to relax quarantine requirements for returning Taiwanese. He said that while he understands overseas citizens had been hoping for a "New Year travel bubble," this would only increase the risk of local infections and put the country in danger.
Chen noted that the world's current pandemic situation is worse than it was in March and that the increase in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe has been nearly vertical over the last few weeks. He said Taiwan is expecting more citizens to return prior to Lunar New Year and that this increase will place huge pressure on the country's pandemic control efforts.
Chen explained that the new policy he labeled as the "Autumn and Winter Epidemic Prevention Project" is aimed not only at tackling the coronavirus but also the flu. He said the cooler weather tends to drive people indoors, increasing their exposure to infectious diseases, reported UDN.
The health minister also clarified that Taiwanese who return from abroad will not be quarantined collectively and that they can choose to quarantine at home. He urged all overseas citizens to return early to avoid missing their family's Lunar New Year celebration, reported CNA.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung announces strict new pandemic prevention measures. (CECC photo)