Taiwan maintains border restrictions despite beating back COVID-19

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (Photo courtesy of CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The border control measures implemented in Taiwan to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus will remain in place, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday, while announcing an easing of social distancing guidelines soon.

The announcement came as the country marked its 45th day of no new domestically transmitted coronavirus cases.

“Safety within Taiwan and the opening up of our borders are two different matters,” said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC. Taiwan cannot relax its border controls simply because the threat of contracting the disease domestically is low, he added.

At the CECC’s daily press briefing, Chen reported no new domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19 for the 45th day and said the social distancing regulations pertaining to seating in cinemas, on trains and in other places will be lifted with effect from June 7.

While Taiwan is relatively safe with regard to COVID-19, however, the same cannot be said of most other countries across the globe, he added.

As a result, Taiwan’s current ban on the entry of foreign nationals, except for those with residence permits and some categories of businesspeople, will remain in place for the time being, Chen said.

Furthermore, Taiwan will maintain its mandatory 14-day home isolation for all arriving travelers, including its citizens, and two-week quarantine at a government facility for those with COVID-19 symptoms, he said.

“We can’t cut ourselves off from the rest of the world,” so the border restrictions will be eased sometime in the future, Chen said.

Meanwhile, people in Taiwan are urged to continue to wear masks in public and wash their hands frequently, which will be crucial to preventing COVID-19 outbreaks when the tight border controls are lifted, he said.

The more vigilant people are about their personal hygiene, the more likely it is that chains of infection will be arrested in the wider society, Chen said.

On Tuesday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) made similar statements, saying Taiwan will relax its border restrictions only when other countries become as safe.

Other COVID-19 prevention measures like social distancing, however, can be relaxed slightly, Su said.

To date, Taiwan has recorded 441 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with seven deaths.

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