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Homeland Security

Initial COVID-19 tests negative for 2 symptomatic returnees from Hubei

ROC Central News Agency

04/21/2020 09:18 PM

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Initial tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus were negative for two returnees with suspected symptoms who arrived in Taiwan late Monday after being stranded in China's Hubei Province because of the pandemic, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.

The adult and the child were among 231 Taiwanese nationals who disembarked from a China Airlines (CAL) flight that arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Monday from Shanghai, said Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the Department of Medical Affairs under the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The two were taken to hospital for quarantine and testing because the adult had a fever of over 38 degrees Celsius, while the child had symptoms of coughing and vomiting three days prior to the flight, Shih said.

Initial test results of the adult, the child and also of the child's mother, were all negative, said Shih.

The other passengers were taken to designated quarantine facilities for mandatory 14-day quarantine and testing, while the plane was taken away for disinfection.

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

The second special flight was scheduled to depart late Tuesday, also from Shanghai, bringing back another 229 Taiwanese.

They had been stuck in Hubei Province and its capital of Wuhan -- the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic -- since Wuhan was sealed off Jan. 23 and much of Hubei Province was locked down a few days later.

Because of disagreements between Taiwan and China, only three previous 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 flight was on Feb. 3, evacuating 247 people, while another two were on March 10 and March 11, bringing home another 361 people.

A further two of the special flights were made on March 29 and March 30, bringing 367 people home.

(By William Yen)

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