We did something meaningful: Taiwan epidemic center head

Epidemic response officials standby as a flight carrying Taiwanese evacuees from Wuhan landed on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)
Epidemic response officials standby as a flight carrying Taiwanese evacuees from Wuhan landed on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — It was a long and emotional morning for the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) as hundreds of Taiwan nationals arrived last night from Wuhan, central China.

“I looked at them and thought ‘we can finally look after them ourselves,'” CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Tuesday during a press conference.

“We did something meaningful,” he added about the hundreds of Taiwanese residents, including many children who were stranded at the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak during the Chinese New Year holiday.

After almost two weeks of cross-strait negotiations, 247 Taiwanese finally departed the now-closed Chinese city of Wuhan and landed at Taoyuan International Airport late last night.

Of the evacuees, only one had some fever and two showed respiratory symptoms. They were immediately quarantined and tested. The results are pending.

A bus transporting Taiwanese evacuees from Wuhan is seen in this photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)
A bus transporting Taiwanese evacuees from Wuhan is seen in this photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)

The remaining people were transported by 14 buses to quarantine sites in Taichung and New Taipei City, where they will be monitored for 14 days, according to Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾管署) Director General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩).

Medical officers will begin collecting samples to test for the novel coronavirus tomorrow, he added.

Regarding the remaining Taiwanese in Wuhan, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official Tsai Chih-ju (蔡志儒) said that they are still in discussion with Chinese counterparts, in hope that future evacuations can build on yesterday’s success.

Tsai refuted Chinese reports that the second phase of evacuation will take place tomorrow, saying that no details have been set.

CECC Chief Commander and Health and Welfare Minister Chen reiterates that residents should be cautious but there is no need to panic.

As of Feb. 3 midnight, Taiwan has reported ten confirmed cases, one of which authorities said is close to full recovery.

In China, there are more than 20,400 confirmed cases, 465 deaths, the country’s National Health Commission (國家健康委員會) reported.

Outside the epicenter, the Philippines and Hong Kong have each reported one death.