Taiwan intensifying health screenings as of Feb. 19. Ban on travelers from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China in place, with exceptions.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 19 Feb 2020 02:13 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions, increased health screenings
  • Location(s): Taiwan (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Increased immigration and customs screening times, quarantine measures, flight disruptions

Summary
Health officials are intensifying screenings of passengers following the first death from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Taiwan. As of Feb. 17, authorities are taking samples from all inbound passengers who display respiratory symptoms or fever. While the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said that the measure applies to passengers from all destinations, officials will probably most closely monitor incoming travelers from countries with notable COVID-19 activity, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. Officials have warned that travelers who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19 could also face immediate quarantine. Health staff are using thermal scanners at points of entry to monitor inbound passengers. Passengers bound for Taiwan who do not accurately report their travel history could face fines of up to NTD 150,000 (USD 5,000). Enhanced screening measures are likely to cause immigration delays, especially at airports in Taipei (TPE, TSA) and Kaohsiung (KHH).

Taiwan authorities continue to impose travel restrictions as of Feb. 18. The CECC banned most Hong Kong and Macau residents Feb. 11, though officials will make exceptions for travelers on business, employees transferring to Taiwan, and travelers with resident permits in Taiwan and their dependents. The CECC will require those allowed to enter the island under these circumstances to self-quarantine for 14 days. Taiwan has banned foreign nationals who traveled to mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong over the previous 14 days from entering the island since Feb. 7. Inbound travel by mainland Chinese nationals is also barred. Taiwan passport holders with recent travel history to mainland China will also need to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Officials may introduce additional entry restrictions in the coming days. The duration of the precautionary measures will likely depend on the regional intensity and extent of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications restricted flights to mainland China Feb. 7; under the new measures, airlines are only allowed to fly to airports in Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (SHA, PVG), Xiamen (XMN), and Chengdu (CTU) through April 29. The restriction prompted Taiwan-based carriers China Airlines (CA) and EVA Air (BR) to cancel approximately 70 percent of flights to mainland China through February. Several airlines serving routes between Taiwan and Southeast Asian destinations have also canceled flights through late March amid reduced demand. Decreased demand could trigger further flight cancellations on available routes in the coming weeks. Authorities have also banned international cruise ships from docking at ports on the island since Feb. 6.

Advice
Confirm entry requirements before embarking on travel to Taiwan. Follow all official instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny, delays, and quarantine.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov.tw

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