From next month, all visitors to Taiwan will be obliged to present a negative Covid-19 test result before entering the country, said the Minister of Health and Welfare Wednesday, in the wake of a rise in imported cases.

Face masks will also be mandatory in eight types of places, though most Taiwanese people have made public mask-wearing a habit from the outset of the pandemic.

Taiwan, a success story in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus, has recorded more than 200 days without locally-transmitted cases. The last local case came on April 12 and there has been no second wave of infections.

But government officials have been keeping a close eye on the rise in imported cases in recent weeks. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has confirmed eight cases last Friday, the most in a single day since April.

Taiwan’s caseload hit 600 after three imported cases were recorded last Saturday. The island nation has reported 609 infections and 7 deaths as of today.

Yesterday, Health minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said everyone visiting Taiwan needs to have a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test issued three days prior to arrival, as part of the government’s three-month plan to contain the spread of the virus during wintertime.


Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan's Minister of Health and Welfare

Now, Taiwanese citizens and residents do not need to do so, though they will still be put in quarantine for 14 days after returning to Taiwan from abroad.

The quarantine period for Taiwanese returning for the Lunar New Year will not be shortened, Chen said today, suggesting that they come back to the country earlier than the holiday.

Starting December 1, the government will also require everyone to wear a mask in eight types of public places including museums, bars, and gyms. Violators will be fined up to NT$15,000.

The eight categories are healthcare facilities, transportation systems, sports and exhibition venues, entertainment venues, business venues, places of consumption, places of learning, and places of worship.

If there is a need to eat or drink in these places, masks can be temporarily removed if a proper social distance is kept or a barrier is in place, Chen added.

Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), a spokesperson for the CECC, said places like gyms and swimming pools, where mask wearing is not possible, are recommended to limit the number of people who can enter or ask visitors to keep a larger social distance with each other.

As the number of people tested has been dropping, the government’s plan also includes incentivizing healthcare facilities to offer tests to those who show symptoms but do not have travel history.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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