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Homeland Security

Arrivals from 5 countries to face stricter quarantines

ROC Central News Agency

06/25/2021 07:09 PM

Taipei, June 25 (CNA) Starting Sunday, travelers arriving in Taiwan from five countries will be quarantined in government facilities, because of concerns over more infectious coronavirus variants, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced.

People who have been to or transited through the United Kingdom, Peru, Israel, Indonesia and Bangladesh in the 14 days before they enter Taiwan will be sent to government quarantine centers beginning early Sunday morning, Chen said Friday.

They will also have to get two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 -- at the beginning and the end of their 14-day quarantine -- he said, and the stay at the quarantine centers and the two PCR tests will be free.

Those who enter Taiwan from other countries will still be allowed to do their 14-day quarantines in a quarantine hotel and will only have to take one COVID-19 PCR test during their time in isolation, one day before they are allowed to go free.

The addition of new countries subject to the tighter measures is the result of the recent rise of new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. and Israel, over 70 percent of which had the Delta variant of the coronavirus that first emerged in India, Chen said.

He cited a statement released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Wednesday that said the Delta variant is 40-60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant initially detected in the U.K.

The spread of the Delta variant has also been reported in Bangladesh and Indonesia, while Taiwan recently confirmed two imported cases with the Delta variant involving Taiwanese returning from Peru, Chen said.

In total, seven COVID-19 patients in Taiwan had been found to be infected with the Delta variant as of Friday, all of them classified as imported cases.

The tougher measures were first implemented on Feb. 24 for people who had been to Brazil before they come to Taiwan, because of the Gamma variant first found in the South American country, and then later to people arriving from India.

Only Taiwanese nationals or residents who have been to India have been allowed to enter Taiwan since May 4 because of the potency of the Delta variant and Taiwan's low vaccination rate.

Fewer than 10 percent of the population had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday.

Also facing tighter restrictions will be flight crews of Taiwanese carriers returning from the five new countries along with Brazil and India (though Taiwanese airlines currently do not serve Brazil, Peru, Bangladesh, or Israel).

Those arriving after flights to any of those countries after midnight Saturday will have to be quarantined for 14 days and then take a PCR test, instead of the shorter five or seven days granted by the authorities, Chen said.

Taiwan closed its border to all arrivals, except citizens and legal residents, on May 19, and the entry ban will stay in place at least as long as Taiwan is under the Level 3 COVID-19 alert introduced that same day.

The Level 3 alert was extended on Wednesday for the third time to July 12 amid continued risk posed by domestic transmissions of the disease.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Chinag Hui-chun and Kay Liu)

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