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Taiwan mulls reopening border to migrant workers

CECC weighs requirement that foreign workers vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines

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Migrant workers undergoing testing for COVID in New Taipei on June 25. 

Migrant workers undergoing testing for COVID in New Taipei on June 25. 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday (Oct. 29) stated that it is currently assessing the optimal time to reopen borders to migrant workers as well as a requirement that they be inoculated with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

During a press conference on Friday, a member of the media asked whether the CECC is considering "conditionally opening" Taiwan's border to migrant workers. Deputy chief of the CECC Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥) responded that in fact, part of the center's work during this period has been to assess the needs of various industries.

Chen said that regarding an overall opening of the borders to migrant workers, inter-ministerial meetings have carried out some assessments. He said that "research and discussions" on the subject are currently underway.

The CECC deputy said that after these measures are completed, "We will open up in due course."

The reporter followed up by asking whether the vaccines currently approved by the WHO will be included among the conditions for foreign migrant workers to enter Taiwan. Chen replied, "This will be evaluated comprehensively."

Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, Taiwan barred migrant workers from that country last December. When Taiwan began to experience its own outbreak, it imposed a blanket ban on the entry of all migrant workers on May 19.

However, strict Level 3 epidemic control measures brought the outbreak under control, with the country's cases dropping to single digits for over two months. So far this month, Taiwan has reported zero local cases on 22 of 29 days.

According to Ministry of Labor (MOL) statistics, Taiwan's migrant worker population surpassed 700,000 in September 2018. After barring Indonesian workers from entering for nearly a year and all other migrant workers for four and a half months, the migrant worker population was down to 699,154 in August this year.