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Homeland Security

Arrivals from U.K. to be collectively quarantined

ROC Central News Agency

12/22/2020 04:45 PM

Taipei, Dec. 22 (CNA) Beginning Wednesday, all arrivals from the United Kingdom as well as travelers who have visited the country in the two weeks prior to coming to Taiwan will be quarantined at designated government centers upon arrival, health authorities said Tuesday.

This group will also have to be tested for COVID-19 prior to finishing quarantine, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said Tuesday.

According to Chen, the new policy is due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.

Over 200,000 new cases of the disease have been reported in the past week, U.K. government data shows. A total of 33,364 cases were recorded on Monday and 35,928 cases on Sunday, the most in a single day in the U.K. since the start of the pandemic.

To date, more than 2 million people have tested positive in the country, and over 76,000 have died from the disease.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has attributed the surge in cases to a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Dubbed VUI-202012/01, the variant was first detected in the U.K. in September, and may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than existing strains, Johnson said Sunday.

Although the World Health Organization has said the U.K.'s surge in cases may not be entirely due to the new virus variant, more than 40 countries and regions have since banned flights from there as a precaution, according to the CECC.

In Taiwan, besides collectively quarantining travelers from the U.K., the CECC has also ordered that flights from the country be reduced, Chen said.

Currently, there are two flights per week from London to Taoyuan, one each operated by Taiwan's two major airlines -- China Airlines and EVA Airlines.

Under the CECC's new policy, only one flight will be allowed between London to Taoyuan per week, which the two airlines will operate alternately, Chen said.

The CECC is also placing stricter quarantine requirements on pilots and flight attendants who have been to the U.K., Chen said.

From Wednesday, pilots and cabin crew members returning from an assignment to the U.K. will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days and test negative for COVID-19 before they can leave their residence in Taiwan, Chen said.

If they are taking another assignment immediately after their quarantine period, however, they only have to follow the previous quarantine regulations -- three days for pilots and five days for cabin crew members -- according to the CECC.

(By Chiang Yi-ching)


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