Taiwan issues travel alerts for 10 European, Middle Eastern countries

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) issued a Level 2 travel alert Wednesday for 10 European and Middle Eastern countries due to the rapid rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The countries include Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria in Europe, and Bahrain and Kuwait in the Middle East, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced at a press conference.

Under the CECC’s three-tier travel advisory system, a Level 2 Alert requires arriving travelers to observe 14 days of self-health management by minimizing time spent in public, wearing a face mask and checking their temperature twice daily.

The coronavirus outbreak has been worsening in Europe, with confirmed cases in countries adjacent to Italy, France, Germany and Spain ballooning, Chen said, citing the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC’s) assessment of the risk for continued transmissions as “moderate to high.”

Italy has been under the highest Level 3 Alert by the CECC since the end of February, while France, Germany and Spain were issued a Level 2 travel alert March 7.

Under a Level 3 Alert, all incoming travelers to Taiwan are subject to mandatory 14-day home quarantine, while outgoing travelers are cautioned against unnecessary trips.

Meanwhile,the CECC also issued a Level 1 Watch on Wednesday to the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as 14 Schengen countries, including including Greece, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Liechtenstein.

A Level 1 Watch asks travelers to observe local virus response regulations and says incoming travelers should observe 14 days of self-health management.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday issued a “gray” alert to the states of New York, Hawaii and Utah in the United States due to recent development of the coronavirus outbreak, advising its nationals to “exercise caution” when traveling to those areas.

The ministry has a four-color-coded travel alert system, with red the highest level of alert, followed by orange, yellow and gray.

As to the 10 European and Middle East countries imposed with a Level 2 travel alert by the CECC, MOFA issued a yellow alert to them, taking the CECC’s recommendation as a reference.

Under a yellow alert, Taiwanese travelers are urged to “exercise extra caution and reconsider their trips.”

On Tuesday, MOFA also imposed a yellow alert for Indonesia, due to the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian country.

“Confirmed COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Indonesia since its discovery of the first case March 2. The ministry calls on our nationals who live in Indonesia or intend to visit the country to step up their personal disease prevention practices,” MOFA said in a statement.

The CECC and MOFA issue separate travel advisories based on their own systems, as the CECC’s system concentrates purely on health considerations, while MOFA’s system incorporates more factors, such as peace and order, into their reviews.