TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (Oct. 12) announced that after 936 days, it will lower the global COVID travel warning from Level 3 to Level 2 on Thursday (Oct. 13).
During the early stages of the COVID pandemic, the CECC on March 21, 2020, issued a Level 3 warning advising against unnecessary travel for all foreign countries, meaning returning passengers would be forced to undergo a quarantine of up to 14 days. CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-Hsiang (莊人祥) announced at a press conference on Wednesday that effective at 12 a.m. on Thursday, the travel warning will be lowered to Level 2.
Chuang said that the current COVID pandemic has flattened out, although the number of cases may be underestimated due to the reduction in testing in various countries. He also cautioned that the highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron BA.5 is still the dominant strain in the world and new variants continue to appear, causing the pandemic to continue.
However, Chuang pointed out that according to existing research, vaccination with COVID boosters still offers protection against BA.5 and is still an effective way to prevent hospitalization, severe illness, and death, and the impact on the health of infected persons is generally mild. Therefore, Chuang said the CECC has decided to lower the COVID travel warning to Level 2.
Nevertheless, the center recommends that Taiwanese get fully vaccinated 14 days before the expected date of an overseas flight. Chuang explained that the purpose of setting up the travel warning levels is to provide people with a reference to the severity of the pandemic and inform them about protective measures before traveling abroad.
Chuang said currently, as countries around the world are gradually opening borders and relaxing domestic epidemic prevention measures, there are frequent and close exchanges among passengers during the journey and there is no significant difference in the risk of infection while traveling between countries/regions. He reminded the public to strengthen personal protective measures when going abroad, including completion of the vaccine regimen, washing hands, observing cough etiquette, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded places or areas with a high risk of infection.
The CECC spokesperson advised those planning to travel abroad to consult with a travel medicine clinic before leaving the country. If travelers experience suspected symptoms of the virus such as fever, diarrhea, rash, or cough within 14 days before returning to Taiwan, they should proactively notify quarantine officers when they return to Taiwan in order to obtain an appropriate assessment and immediate medical care.