Taiwan bars entry of residents from Wenzhou due to epidemic

Given the direct flights between Taiwan and Wenzhou and the frequent people-to-people exchanges, the Central Epidemic Command Center decided to declare a Level 2 endemic in that city, effective Feb. 3. (NOWnews)
Given the direct flights between Taiwan and Wenzhou and the frequent people-to-people exchanges, the Central Epidemic Command Center decided to declare a Level 2 endemic in that city, effective Feb. 3. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s government has extended its travel ban of visitors from China to Chinese citizens living in Wenzhou due to the worsening of the coronavirus epidemic there, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Sunday.

At a hastily called press conference Sunday evening, CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the number of confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the coastal city had reached 265 as of Saturday.

This was the highest number of any prefectural-level administrative division in China outside Hubei Province, where the coronavirus was first detected, and a community-level transmission could be taking place locally, Chou said.

Local authorities in Wenzhou have also began restricting the movement of residents there, he said.

“Given the direct flights between Taiwan and Wenzhou and the frequent people-to-people exchanges, our Central Epidemic Command Center decided to declare a Level 2 endemic in that city, effective Feb. 3,” he announced.

Residents of Wenzhou will be barred from entering Taiwan, and returning Taiwanese nationals or other travelers from that city will be required to remain quarantined at home for 14 days, according to a separate CDC statement.

Returning Taiwanese nationals who exhibit respiratory disease symptoms such as a high fever and coughing, will be sent to designated medical institutions, while travelers have recently been to Wenzhou will be handled based on standard procedures if they test positive for the virus, the CDC said.

According to Chuang, there are currently seven direct flights a week between Taiwan and Wenzhou, with an average of 170 passengers per fight, which translates to almost 1,200 passengers entering Taiwan from that city every week.

Taiwan has imposed a similar ban on Guangdong Province, where more than 600 coronavirus cases have been reported, starting Sunday.