Tighter coronavirus controls planned for Tomb Sweeping Festival

Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍, front, left)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan will adopt more stringent measures against the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, starting April 1, ahead of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Thursday.

The new measures will include temperature checks for people entering train and bus stations, airports, highway service areas and post offices, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.

In cases where a forehead infrared thermometer detects a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or an ear thermometer registers 38 degrees or over, the person’s temperature will be checked a second time and they will not be permitted to enter the venue if the reading remains at that level, Lin said.

Infrared thermometers will be installed at Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Zuoying stations on the High Speed Rail system and at 34 stations along the Taiwan Railways Administration train lines before the April 2-5 Tomb Sweeping Festival, he said.

In addition, the major train stations across the country will step up their sanitization and passenger volume control efforts, in anticipation of large numbers of people traveling to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors, the MOTC said.

All stations on the high speed rail system will be disinfected every two hours, and only reserved seats will be sold on its trains around the holiday period, in order to prevent overcrowding, the ministry said.

In phase two of the MOCT’s tighter coronavirus prevention measures, it will extend the temperature checks to all train and bus stations, airports, and post offices throughout the country, with effect from May 1.

Under the Communicable Disease Control Act, the government has the right to regulate gatherings and prohibit people with suspected communicable diseases from taking public transportation or entering or leaving specific places, during an epidemic or in order to prevent one.

As of Friday, Taiwan had confirmed 267 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, while the number of cases worldwide had jumped to around 533,000 with more than 24,000 deaths.