Taiwan to Ban Entry of Foreign Travelers Over Imported Coronavirus Cases

Taiwan to Ban Entry of Foreign Travelers Over Imported Coronavirus Cases
Photo Credit: CNA

What you need to know

Taiwan will ban foreign nationals from entering the country starting on March 19 due to a surge in imported coronavirus cases.

This article was updated at 5:32 p.m. on March 18, 2020 to reflect the latest update on the number of infections.

Taiwan will bar entry to all foreign nationals starting on March 19 except for alien resident certificate (ARC) holders, business travelers, and diplomats, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu said on Wednesday. Those who can still enter Taiwan, including Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals, will be subject to 14-day home quarantine regardless of where they are arriving from.

The travel ban came after a surge in imported cases of coronavirus this week. Since Sunday, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has confirmed over 40 cases, most of which were related to travelers returning from overseas.

The CECC announced at a press conference that travelers who have returned from or transited via European countries and Dubai since March 5 would have to switch from self-health monitoring to home quarantine. Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yan (陳宗彥) urged all Taiwanese citizens and foreign visitors who have visited Europe and Dubai between March 5 and March 14 to report to their local council office, or dial 1999 to obtain contact information.

"Since this period involves a high volume of people, I urge the public to refrain from making false reports about your travel history. There will be penalties for those who submit false claims," Chen said.

According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) website, visitors with a 60- or 90-day visa-exempt period can file for an extension request up to 180 days at the local immigration agency. At the time of writing, BOCA has yet to announce any special measures for foreign nationals who might be facing expired tourist visas.

Wu told the press that Taiwan and the United States have been working closely to research on coronavirus vaccines and testing kits. To ensure steady coronavirus prevention supplies, Wu said, the U.S. has retained materials enough for the manufacturing of 30,000 hazmat suits despite the global shortage. In return, Taiwan would provide the U.S. with 100,000 surgical masks weekly as soon as the local production growth stabilizes.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has confirmed 23 additional cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to 100. Most of the cases confirmed this week were imported, mainly from Europe.

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