Taiwan confirmed five imported cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total number of infections to 467, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Four of the patients arrived from the Philippines on Sunday while one was from Hong Kong. Since July 26, Taiwan’s CECC has mandated Covid-19 testing for all visitors traveling from the Philippines, where over 80,000 cases have been reported.

While Taiwan has not reported any domestic transmission for over 100 days, the continuous spike in global cases necessitates quarantine and testing. Reopening the borders too soon, or loosening the restrictions preemptively, may put at risk the hard work Taiwan has done.

Thailand on Monday announced four confirmed cases, one of which was a Thai migrant worker who returned from Taiwan on July 21. Chuang told reporters that the CECC may not dismiss the possibility of the case being a local transmission. However, since the case was not confirmed in Taiwan, it would not be counted as a local infection.

“We would still do what needs to be done,” Chuang said, adding that the CECC would try to verify the source of infection.

The Thai worker is based out of Taoyuan, Chuang noted, and the CECC has already tracked down 189 people who came into contact with the worker in the area.

This confirmed case recalls reports of a Japanese student who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Taiwan to Japan. All of the people who came into close contact with the student were traced by the CECC but the tests came back negative.

The Thai worker’s positive test result raised concerns over whether there are undetected cases in Taiwan. Currently, Taiwan only mandates all incoming visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Visitors are not tested unless they are required to do after filling out the health evaluation at the border or display symptoms during the quarantine.

The CECC has recently announced that Taiwan will welcome travelers seeking medical treatment starting August 1. But this decision has come under harsh criticism by Taiwanese netizens.

Chan Chang-chuan, Dean of National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health, said the risks of cluster outbreak exist in every community. He suggested Taiwan should enforce testing on all foreign nationals entering and leaving Taiwan.

“Testing would allow us to discover the cases sooner,” Chan told the press today. “It is wrong for us to leave the responsibilities up to another country.”

Taiwanese nationals are exempt from testing. Foreign residents of Taiwan previously had been required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result three days prior to entering the country, but this requirement was lifted on July 3. Travelers who do not have ARC or APRC are still required to provide a negative test result 72 hours before departure.

This article has been updated at 11:06 a.m. on July 29, 2020 to clarify Taiwan’s Covid-19 testing requirements.

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

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