Two Taiwanese quarantined in Russia free from coronavirus

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou / CNA file photo
MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou / CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Two Taiwanese nationals who were quarantined in Russia have left the hospital after they tested negative for COVID-19 coronavirus, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday.

Taiwan’s representative office in Russia received notification from the hospital a day earlier that the two had been confirmed free from coronavirus, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at a regular press conference.

Personnel from Taiwan’s representative office in Moscow have picked up the two Taiwanese from the hospital, Ou said.

The two were part of a group of four Taiwanese nationals who were stopped on Moscow’s streets and subways by police and health officials as part of Russia’s measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, MOFA learned Sunday.

Of the four, two were sent to hospital for further diagnosis due to fever and the other two were asked to isolate themselves for 14 days in their hotel rooms, MOFA said at that time.

However, Ou said during Thursday’s press conference that the two Taiwanese under self-quarantine defied orders and visited Red Square, where they were caught by police and sent to a hospital for health checks.

They were allowed to return to their hotel after the Taiwan representative office intervened, Ou said.

Russia issued a temporary ban on Chinese nationals entering the country on Feb. 20 and efforts to check Chinese-looking people in the country have been ongoing, according to media reports.

MOFA urged Taiwanese tourists in Russia to observe local rules as Moscow is implementing strict COVID-19 preventive measures, such as random screening at public places, private homes and hotels, as well as the application of facial recognition technology in public places.

At the same time, MOFA also called attention to Taiwanese nationals regarding the ways different cultures regard wearing face masks, as in Western cultures, wearing a mask implies that the wearer is sick.