Taiwan mulling new rules for return of citizens with COVID-19

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is considering changing its current entry regulations for its citizens who contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus abroad, making it mandatory for them to meet certain health criteria, the Central Epidemic Commend Center (CECC) said Thursday.

Under a plan being drafted by the CECC, Taiwanese who contract COVID-19 in another country would be allowed to return home if they have recovered, which means they have had two consecutive negative tests or have not had any symptoms of the disease for at least two months since the onset, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told CNA.

That condition was proposed in a recent meeting of CECC experts, in response to requests by some Taiwanese who were infected abroad and wish to return to Taiwan, said Chuang, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control.

The CECC is also considering implementing regulations regarding Taiwanese travelers who have a fever, as the current rules set by the airlines do not allow passengers with a temperature to board their flights to Taiwan, Chuang said.

He said that regulation is too harsh, since a fever alone does not necessarily mean the person has COVID-19.

Chuang said it is difficult for Taiwanese in some other countries to get tested for COVID-19 and to obtain medical treatment if they contract the disease.

The new plan, which includes other aspects of Taiwan’s current entry regulations, is still in the draft stage, and no date has yet been set for its finalization, he said.

If the plan is implemented, however, testing of returning Taiwanese will still be required, along with the mandatory 14-day quarantine after arrival, Chuang said.

Those who were diagnosed overseas with COVID-19 will have to present a doctor’s certificate, while those with suspicious symptoms will be asked to adhere to the current rules, which require completion of a health declaration at the airline counter in the country of departure and reporting to quarantine officers upon arrival in Taiwan, Chuang said.

Failure to comply may result in a fine of up to NT$150,000 (US$5,000), he warned.

As of Thursday, Taiwan had 440 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 349 classified as imported, 55 as locally acquired, and 36 as part of a cluster infection on a Navy ship that returned to Taiwan April 9 from a goodwill mission.

Among Taiwan’s 440 cases, six have died, while 347 have recovered, and the others are still in hospital, according to CECC data.