More than 20 people staying at quarantine hotels in Taipei

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA)—More than 20 people are now staying at two quarantine hotels in Taipei under an initiative by the city government to house individuals who have to undergo quarantine but do not have a place to stay in Taiwan.

The individuals include Taiwanese businessmen who work in China, as well as people traveling from Italy and South Korea to Taiwan, Commissioner Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) of Taipei’s Department of Information and Tourism said Saturday.

None of them have any symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Liu stressed, and they are paying for their own stays.

As part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all individuals entering Taiwan from China, South Korea and Italy have to undergo 14-day home quarantine upon entry.

Those in quarantine are not allowed to leave their homes and are subject to daily health checks by their ward chiefs.

The Taipei City government has received reports, however, that some visitors have not been permitted to stay at hotels they had booked in advance because they had to undergo quarantine, which spurred the launch of the initiative.

Under the plan, individuals who have displayed no COVID-19 symptoms are allowed to stay at these designated quarantine hotels.

Those who do have symptoms are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or have had contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients will be placed in medical institutions if they have nowhere to stay in the country.

Currently, two hotels that are providing 40 rooms in total are cooperating with the city under the plan, and two more are expected to join next week, Liu said.

The hotels have to pass inspections from Taipei’s Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Civil Affairs before they can receive such visitors, Liu said.

Regarding the name and location of the hotels, Liu said that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has not instructed that these information be made public.

Liu also stressed that these hotels remain safe for regular guests staying there, as those in quarantine are placed on different floors.

Only hotel employees who are in charge of delivering food to and collecting waste from quarantined individuals are allowed to enter the floors they are staying on, he said, and since these individuals are not allowed to exit their rooms, regular guests are perfectly safe.

Even if a hotel runs on a central air conditioning system, which neither of the hotels do, it will not contribute to the spread of the disease, Liu said, adding that he has confirmed this with the city’s health department.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets, and there is no evidence so far to indicate that it can spread through airborne transmission, Liu said.

According to a Department of Health press statement released Feb. 27, no housekeeping is provided to quarantined individuals during their stay. Instead, the hotels provide them with enough towels, bedsheets and pillowcases in their rooms, as well as cleansing products.

When these individuals check out, amenities including shower gels, toothbrushes and slippers will be immediately disposed of, and cleaning staff will be outfitted with masks, gloves and goggles when disinfecting the rooms, the statement said.