TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Friday (March 11) that it is possible the center will release a plan on reopening Taiwan's borders within a month, but the lifting of border restrictions will depend on four key factors.
During a press briefing that day, Chen was asked to comment on experts' suggestions that Taiwan devise a plan to reopen its borders to travelers within one month. Chen responded by saying "there is a possibility" that such a plan will be released within that timeframe.
Chen said that the situation will be clearer in a month. He predicted that if there are no new variants, the global pandemic will slow down.
The CECC head pointed out that among the six major regions, only the Western Pacific is still seeing a rise in cases. He said that amid research by the central government and experts, Taiwan is "moving toward a new model of economic epidemic prevention."
Chen said that the most critical aspect of this model is to avoid the sudden exponential growth of cases such as in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Korea. He emphasized that coexistence with the virus is necessary due to the fact that it is impossible to eliminate the disease, adding that isolation of infected cases is still necessary.
However, Chen said confirmed cases with mild symptoms can stay in a quarantine center, while contacts of cases can quarantine at home. He said that the center's preliminary plan is "there will still be quarantine, but the number of days may change." Chen said that after a month of observing the current 10-day quarantine scheme, he expects that the number of home quarantine days will be shortened to seven.
Chen expressed concern that if the quarantine period is shortened any further, the risk of transmission could rise. He then listed key indicators the center is monitoring before it releases its plan for lifting border restrictions, including the level of preparedness among the central and local governments, rate of COVID detection among arrivals undergoing self-health monitoring, vaccination rate among the elderly, and pandemic situation overseas.
He said that the percentage of positive rapid antigen tests during quarantine will be closely monitored. "Those who fail to report their test results and violate relevant regulations will be strictly punished in accordance with the Communicable Disease Control Act because this will impact the speed with which the borders can be reopened in the future," said Chen.