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Homeland Security

U.S. health secretary to follow quarantine rules during Taiwan visit

ROC Central News Agency

08/09/2020 12:02 PM

Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar will present two negative test results for COVID-19 upon his arrival in Taiwan scheduled for Sunday afternoon, according to a U.S. health department spokesman.

Azar and members of his delegation will also follow Taiwan's coronavirus prevention measures during his planned meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and heads of government agencies, according to the spokesman.

Although they will not have to undergo the compulsory 14 days of COVID-19 quarantine, they will have to wear face masks throughout their stay, Taiwan's government officials have previously said.

Azar's planned visit aims to convey the U.S. administration's recognition of Taiwan's achievements in COVID-19 prevention and control and underscore the shared belief of the U.S. and Taiwan that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health, the U.S. health department spokesman said.

The Department has been in communication with Taiwan's relevant government agencies regarding COVID-19 protocols, the spokesman said, adding that Azar and his delegation will be tested for the virus within three days of their departure from the U.S. and again on arrival at the airport in Taiwan.

While in Taiwan, all members of Azar's delegation will be required to wear face masks in public places and if Azar needs to speak in public and take his mask off, he will maintain proper social distancing in accordance with Taiwan's COVID-19 prevention guidelines, according to the spokesman.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Saturday that the delegation will arrive in Taiwan on a special charter flight and they will travel around Taiwan as a group and will not have any contact with other people.

Azar's visit will be the highest-level one by an American official since the break in formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Taipei in 1979, and he will become the first U.S. Cabinet-level official to visit the country since 2014.

In 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama sent Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy to Taipei for a visit.

Other U.S. Cabinet officials to have visited Taiwan include former Secretary of Transportation Federico F. Pena in 1994, former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson in 1998 and former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater in 2000.

Joining Azar on the visit will be James F. Moriarty, chairman of the board of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT); Mitchell Wolfe, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Brian Harrison, HHS chief of staff; Garrett Grigsby, director of the HHS Office of Global Affairs; and other members of the Trump administration, according to an AIT statement issued Wednesday.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Evelyn Kao)

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