Chen says outbreak in China 'very serious,' no LNY bubble for Taiwanese execs

Head of CECC shoots down idea of Lunar New Year bubble for Taiwanese businessmen amid surging cases in China

Chen Shih-chung being interviewed by Hit FM.

Chen Shih-chung being interviewed by Hit FM. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The head of Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has shot down the notion of a Lunar New Year (LNY) bubble for Taiwanese businesspeople returning from China because of the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in that country.

As the LNY holiday approaches, Taiwanese businesspeople have complained that they still have to undergo 14 days of quarantine when they return home from China. When they go back to China, they will have to quarantine for another 14 days, thus almost an entire month is lost.

Some in the Taiwanese business community have been lobbying the government for a special "Spring Festival bubble" that would allow Taiwanese businesspeople to have a substantially shortened quarantine, such as the business bubble that existed before the new global surge in COVID-19 cases and rise of new strains forced its discontinuation.

In an interview with Hit FM, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said he would never consider such a bubble. Exasperated, he asked: "Isn't everyone aware of the epidemic situation in China?"

Chen said that judging from the reports of new cases coming out of China, the rate of infection is accelerating rapidly. He said what he is concerned about is the speed at which the virus is spreading and the traffic restrictions the Chinese authorities have put in place.

He said the situation in Hebei Province is very similar to the situation in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. Chen pointed out that some cities in the province are in complete lockdown now.

The CECC head said that quarantines in some parts of China consist of 14 days of centralized quarantine plus seven days of home quarantine. Other areas have raised it to 14 days of centralized quarantine and 14 days at home.

From these measures, it can be deduced that the epidemic situation in Hebei is "actually very serious," said Chen. During a press conference on Thursday (Jan. 15), the CECC said Hebei and Heilongjiang are at particular risk of spreading the virus.

This week, 22 million people in the two provinces have been ordered to stay home indefinitely. This is double the number of people placed under lockdown in Wuhan a year ago.

Videos have again begun surfacing showing Chinese officials welding apartment building doors shut to ensure the occupants stay inside, much like in Wuhan early last year.

Updated : 2021-03-04 09:09 GMT+08:00