Taiwan will restrict all foreign nationals from entering the country beginning on Thursday (19 March) amid the spike in COVID-19 cases among Taiwanese who had traveled abroad recently, the Health Minister and head of Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Chen Shih-chung said on Wednesday (18 March).
Mr Chen announced the new restrictions at a CECC news conference, stating that all Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals with the necessary documents entering the country will be required to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, Focus Taiwan reported.
According to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, those who hold Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) or documents indicating that they came for diplomatic, official purposes or fulfilling business contract purposes, including those with special permits, will be exempted from the ban.
The restrictions for foreign nationals to enter Taiwan will be subjected to change based on CECC directives, Mr Wu added.
The country has reported a total of 77 COVID-19 cases and one fatality to date, with 10 new confirmed cases – all imported cases – being reported on Tuesday (17 March).
CECC reported that of those 77 cases, 50 were imported cases.
Taiwan’s proactive measures in reducing the spread of COVID-19
Nevertheless, Taiwan has recorded a low number of COVID-19 cases, considering its proximity to China, as it remained on high alert and implemented proactive measures after China reported the spread of pneumonia illness in Wuhan.
On 26 January, the country secured its border by restricting entry to all travelers from Wuhan and further imposed the ban on flights from all China cities on 4 February, allowing only Taiwanese to enter the country.
On 13 February, the Taiwanese government also banned the exports of face masks and requisitioned all domestically-produced face masks until the end of April to ensure sufficient domestic supply amid the virus outbreak.
The country raised its epidemic response level to the highest on 27 February to enable the government to quickly tackle the virus outbreak with more resources channeled across various ministries.
Taiwan also announced a US$2 billion package to cushion the impact of the virus outbreak on its export-reliant economy. The package includes loans for small businesses, subsidies for hard-hit tour agencies, and vouchers to spend on food in the night markets in Taiwan.