TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), announced Wednesday (June 16) that plans to allow persons vaccinated abroad to undergo a shortened quarantine have been shelved amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country and fears of the arrival of new variants.
In April, the CECC announced that it would start a pilot program in May that would allow vaccinated passengers arriving in Taiwan to cut their mandatory quarantine down to seven days. However, on May 15, Taiwan reported 180 local COVID-19 cases, and by May 19, the country had imposed Level 3 restrictions, which are set to remain in place until June 28.
When asked at a press conference on Wednesday whether Taiwan would begin to allow vaccinated arrivals a shortened seven-day quarantine, Chen acknowledged that the center had considered this option but that due to the severity of the current outbreak, officials need to concentrate on bringing the domestic cases under control first.
Chen added that there are concerns about the proliferation of new COVID-19 variants overseas and the possibility of them being transmitted in Taiwan. He said that if these variants spread to local communities, they would be very hard to control.
The health minister emphasized that the CECC is not currently considering shortening quarantines for vaccinated individuals.
Under the original plan, vaccinated people would have been allowed to shorten their mandatory quarantine from 14 days to seven. Applicants would have been required to receive both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before arrival, present proof of a negative PCR test, test positive for antibodies upon arrival, and test negative in a PCR test on the seventh day of their quarantine.
Although several COVID-19 vaccines have very high efficacy rates, on June 10, the CECC announced that a Taiwanese woman in her 40s, who in April received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the U.S., tested positive after returning to Taiwan. A family member living with her in Taiwan was also diagnosed with the disease.