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Taiwan to replace on-arrival PCR test with saliva test on June 1

Arriving passengers no longer need to wait for results of COVID test before leaving airport

Taiwan to replace on-arrival PCR test with saliva test on June 1

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (May 31) announced that starting on Wednesday (June 1), passengers arriving in Taiwan will no longer be required to undergo a nasal PCR test and will instead take a less-invasive saliva test.

At a press conference that afternoon, CECC official Victor Wang (王必勝) pointed out that due to the international outbreak of Omicron cases and cluster infections among airport employees, Taiwan on Jan. 11 began implementing on-arrival PCR tests for passengers on flights from high-risk countries and regions such as Europe, the Middle East, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and India. As of May 31, a total of more than 149,000 passengers from more than 2,500 flights had been screened and more than 6,200 tested positive, representing a positivity rate of 4.2%.

However, the global pandemic is slowing down with the positivity rate among incoming passengers dropping from 4 to 5% in April to 1% currently, far lower than the 6% positivity rate among Taiwanese. Wang added that the accuracy of the saliva tests appears to be matching that of the PCR tests, with both recently posting a positivity rate of 1%.

With these factors in mind, Wang said that effective on Wednesday, passengers entering Taiwan from abroad will no longer be required to take a PCR test upon arrival and instead will take a saliva test. Nevertheless, because the pandemic continues to smolder overseas, the CECC is urging international passengers preparing to travel to Taiwan to take a PCR test two days before their scheduled flight to the country.

As incoming passengers will be subject to a saliva test, the CECC advises them to not drink or eat approximately 30 minutes before their flight lands in Taiwan to ensure the quality of the samples. After taking the saliva test at the airport, passengers must go directly to their prearranged quarantine facility (one person per household or epidemic prevention hotel), rather than wait for the result, which was the case with long-haul passengers who took the PCR test.

If the saliva test comes back positive, passengers undergoing one person per household must commence home care in the same location. People who test positive while staying in an epidemic prevention hotel will be transferred to an enhanced epidemic prevention hotel, quarantine center, or hospital for treatment in accordance with regulations.