CORONAVIRUS/Nearly 40% of returning travelers report start of home quarantine

Taipei, Nearly 40 percent of the approximately 16,000 people who returned to Taiwan March 5-14 from overseas areas deemed as high-risk for the COVID-19 coronavirus disease have reported to local district offices that they have started home quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday.

Of the 16,000 travelers who returned from the listed countries during the 10-day period, 5,943 foreign and Taiwanese nationals are now in self-quarantine, in compliance with a government regulation that was announced Wednesday as part of its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, CECC Deputy Commander Chen Tsung-yen (???) said at a news briefing.

That number represents 37.5 percent of those who had returned March 5-14 from 27 European countries, Egypt, Turkey, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Chen said.

Those who have reported to the local government authorities and gone into quarantine are eligible to receive a government subsidy of NT$1,000 (US$33) per day, while those who do not comply or lie about their travel history will risk penalties, according to the CECC.

With the implementation of the government's latest border control measures at midnight March 18, all arriving Taiwanese passengers are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, while the entry of foreign nationals has been banned, with few exceptions.

Only foreign nationals who hold Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) or documents proving they are in Taiwan for diplomatic or other official purposes or to fulfill business contracts, and those who have special permits, are allowed to enter the country.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, some 5,000 people had entered Taiwan under the latest regulations, with about 69 percent of them using the new electronic health declaration and home quarantine form to expedite clearance, according to Chen.

Taiwan announced the broader border control measures on Wednesday in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus, even as its number of confirmed COVID-19 infections rose to 100, with 21 of the 23 new cases that day categorized as imported.

Meanwhile, more than 1,100 Taiwanese in 85 tour groups remained stranded in Southeast Asia, Europe, North America, South America and North Africa, Chen said.

They have been advised to use the electronic quarantine declaration form when they get back to Taiwan, not only to expedite clearance, but also to facilitate incorporation of the information into a broader electronic system that would allow health authorities to keep track of them after arrival, he said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel