TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Monday (Feb. 14) that it plans to shorten the mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals from 14 to 10 days and allow them to quarantine in their own homes before mid-March.
During a press conference, CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that based on the pandemic situation before and after the Lunar New Year holiday, the effective reproduction number (Rt value), positive test rate, and transmission chain of different Omicron gene sequences show that during the holiday, the domestic outbreak has become "stable and controllable."
Chen pointed out that Omicron has shown signs of a shortened incubation period compared to previous variants. According to Chen, 95% of those who tested positive for the disease in Taiwan did so within seven days of exposure, and 99% of those who tested positive did so within 10 days of exposure.
He pointed out that the hospitalization and mortality rates of those infected with Omicron are much lower than those of other variants. Chen noted that with the increasing vaccination and booster shot rates, most cases are expected to be asymptomatic mild in the future. For this reason, he said the CECC is looking to shorten the quarantine requirement to a length similar to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Chen said that the country's quarantine policy is moving towards "shortening the number of home quarantine days to 10 days, and implementing self-health management for seven days after the quarantine period expires." Chen stated that in the near future, home quarantine will be allowed as long as those quarantining can ensure there is only one person per household.
If a returning traveler cannot meet the CECC's requirement of one person per household, they must spend the entire 10 days of their quarantine in an epidemic prevention hotel.
Foreign nationals who can apply for entry into Taiwan now include overseas students, foreign spouses, children of Taiwanese citizens who are minors, and non-citizens with valid residence permits.
Foreign spouses and minors, as well as those with emergency or humanitarian needs who have been approved will be able to enter under the new shortened quarantine program. Migrant workers from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand are also eligible.
Chen said entry permit requirements will be relaxed in the future for business people, who will see their quarantine period shortened.
As for testing, Chen said that arriving passengers must undergo two PCR tests, one upon entry and one before the expiration of their quarantine period (10th day). In addition, they must take rapid antigen tests on the third, fifth, and seventh days of quarantine, as well a on the sixth or seventh days of self-health monitoring.
When asked by the media when the shortened home quarantine policy will take effect, Chen said it will depend on three factors: local cases remaining "stable and controllable," booster shot coverage reaching 50%, and the completion of "preparations for epidemic prevention measures." Chen emphasized that the center is hoping that the shortened quarantines can "begin before mid-March."