In light of surplus capacity in the medical system from 101 days free of domestically transmitted Covid-19 cases, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) today announced that the country will be open to foreign nationals seeking medical treatment.

Foreign nationals will be able to file applications starting August 1, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.

Physical check-ups and cosmetic procedures will be excluded from the program. Medical travelers can submit related documents for their health conditions to apply for medical visits and they will be reviewed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Once approved, patients can stay in Taiwan for up to three months.

Patients can apply to bring along a spouse or up to two close relatives. Upon arrival, medical tourists must acquire a medical assistant or caretaker. Medical tourists must bring proof of medical insurance, agree to Covid-19 quarantine, and provide certification that three days prior to flight all passengers in their party tested negative for Covid-19.

Both the patients and their companions must complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 before they can proceed to the medical institution. For cases of emergency, hospitals can receive patients in isolation rooms following the quarantine procedures. After testing negative for Covid-19, the patients can begin medical treatment in isolation for 14 days.

All applicants must pay for the quarantine fees, Covid-19 tests, and medical bills out of pocket.

Chen said Taiwan should accept patients who had been waiting to have operations in the country before the border shutdown based on ethical reasons. Taiwan also specializes in certain medical technology (e.g., stem cell and kidney transplantations) that could help patients in need.

According to Shih Chung-liang , the Director General of the Department of Medical Affairs at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 30 percent of foreign nationals seeking treatment come from Southeast Asia. Most patients seek fertility treatment, cancer treatment, and various surgeries. Every month approximately 500 to 700 patients arrive.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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