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Palau travel bubble not threatened: Taiwan Ministry of Transportation

China Airlines has set aside enough pilots, cabin crews to maintain service

Taiwan and Palau hope to resume travel bubble soon. (Wikicommons, Peter Binter photo) 

Taiwan and Palau hope to resume travel bubble soon. (Wikicommons, Peter Binter photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The travel bubble between Taiwan and Palau is not under any threat from an uptick in domestic coronavirus infections and from a cluster involving Taiwan’s main airline, the Ministry of Transportation said Tuesday (May 11).

Taiwan confirmed seven new domestic COVID-19 infections Tuesday, including a relative of a China Airlines (CAL) pilot. A recent cluster involved at least 35 CAL pilots, family members, and staff at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport.

While the airline’s pilots have been called back to Taiwan for a 14-day quarantine, the airline has kept enough pilots and flight attendants to continue the operation of the flights to Palau, CNA quoted Ministry of Transportation officials as saying.

The two diplomatic allies launched their first travel bubble flight on April 1 with more than 100 passengers, though interest waned soon afterward. Palau has not registered a single coronavirus patient, leading the two countries to do away with quarantine requirements.

At the news conference announcing Taiwan’s seven new domestic cases Tuesday, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) expressed hope that the flights between the two countries would be unaffected by the latest developments.

However, the possibility of more travel bubbles with other countries still needs to be evaluated, officials said. Several popular Southeast Asian travel destinations, including Thailand, have suffered under new waves of coronavirus outbreaks.