Taiwan to monitor health of arriving travelers via text messaging

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan plans to introduce a “strengthened” version of its self-health management guidelines, monitoring travelers for 14 days after their arrival in Taiwan via text messaging, in an effort to reduce the risk of imported cases of the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said in a press briefing Saturday that the CECC plans to introduce automatic text message checks as part of a “strengthened” version of the self-health management guidelines, as well as penalties for those who fail to reply or disclose symptoms of illness.

The CECC has already developed operational procedures for the new guidelines, Chen said, but he did not specify when they would be implemented.

Current CECC regulations stipulate that travelers entering Taiwan from countries under a Level 3 warning must undergo 14 days of home quarantine, while those arriving from all other countries are required to conduct self-health management for 14 days by minimizing time spent in public, wearing a face mask and checking their body temperature twice daily.

Under the planned measures, however, travelers will receive a formal notification to observe self-health management for 14 days, during which time authorities will check on them via text messaging, according to a procedural chart released Saturday by the CECC.

People with symptoms of the virus will be able to send messages to arrange medical treatment, while those who fail to reply to either the text messages or telephone calls will be referred to the police, the chart shows.

During the press conference, Chen said the government is also looking at the possibility of waiving the home quarantine regulations for foreign nationals who visit Taiwan on short business trips from countries and areas under a Level 3 travel warning.

One option being considered is to test such visitors for COVID-19 on arrival, at their own cost, Chen said.

On the issue of enforcing the government’s travel restrictions, Chen said healthcare personnel can now view a person’s travel history by scanning their National Health Insurance card.