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Homeland Security

Two of 231 returnees from Wuhan show respiratory symptoms

ROC Central News Agency

04/21/2020 12:12 PM

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) One adult and one child from among the 231 Taiwan nationals who returned to Taiwan late Monday after being stranded in China's Hubei province because of the COVID-19 outbreak were found to have respiratory infections and hospitalized.

The government-contracted China Airlines (CAL) flight carrying 193 adults and 38 children arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 9:21 p.m., according to Taiwan's Border Affairs Corps.

After landing, the 231 passengers were examined at a provisional health station at the airport, and the two who showed symptoms of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were sent immediately to a hospital in Hsinchu for a complete diagnosis and treatment.

The child was accompanied to the hospital by her mother.

The other passengers were transported to designated quarantine facilities for mandatory 14-day quarantines to prevent them from coming into contact with local residents.

All returnees will be tested for COVID-19 within 48 hours, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center's (CECC) past practices.

Meanwhile, the CAL plane was taken to the hangar of Taiwan Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Co. for disinfection.

It was the first of two special flights contracted for this week by the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), a semi-official organization that handles cross-Taiwan Strait affairs in the absence of formal bilateral links.

The second special flight is scheduled to depart Tuesday night from Shanghai and bring back another 230 Taiwanese.

The Taiwanese nationals had been stuck in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan -- the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak -- since Wuhan was sealed off on Jan. 23 and much of Hubei province was locked down a few days later.

Because of disagreements between Taiwan and China, only three charter flights were organized to evacuate Taiwanese nationals from the area before the province lifted restrictions on outbound travel on March 25, and Wuhan lifted its lockdown on April 8.

The first came on Feb. 3, evacuating 247 people, and the other two came on March 10 and 11 and brought home another 361 people.

After the lockdowns were lifted, Taiwan still insisted that people returning from Hubei province be required to go through special procedures, such as pre-boarding health checks, when returning to Taiwan rather than simply taking commercial flights.

The "charter-like" flights set up by the government have departed from Shanghai, forcing people from Hubei to make the trip there to board a plane home.

The first two of these special flights were made on March 29 and March 30, bringing 367 people home.

(By Wu Jui-chi, Lu Chun-kung and Evelyn Kao)

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