Taipei, March 14 (CNA) Diplomats and foreign representatives in Taipei were briefed Friday on the state of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease outbreak in Taiwan and the country's prevention and containment efforts, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The briefing, held at the ministry and hosted by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), was attended by diplomats and representatives from nearly 60 countries and international organizations, MOFA said in statement issued late Friday.
During the briefing, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Emergency Command Center (CECC), told the diplomats that Taiwan had managed to keep the number of COVID-19 cases relatively low compared with other countries, despite Taiwan's geographical proximity to China, where most of the infections have been recorded.
One decisive factor was Taiwan's early screening of passengers arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first detected, before allowing them to disembark from the aircraft, Chen said.
That measure was implemented on Dec. 31, 2019, two weeks after the first severe cases were reported in Wuhan, he said.
Taiwan then set up a command center on Jan. 20 to cope with the outbreak and has since raised the level of the command center twice, on Jan. 23 and Feb. 27, to step up its COVID-19 control measures and facilitate better inter-agency coordination, he added.
Chen also explained to the diplomats in detail the workings of Taiwan's measures such as border control, quarantine regulations, travel warnings and face masks rationing, the MOFA said.
Chen said that while Taiwan is not a member of the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been observing the WHO's International Health Regulations and reporting confirmed cases in real time, according to MOFA.
At the same time, the WHO needs to clarify border control regulations to prevent misunderstanding among countries, as this could hamper COVID-19 prevention and control efforts internationally, Chen said.
According to MOFA, the diplomats and foreign representatives who attended the briefing lauded Taiwan's prevention and control measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Saturday afternoon, Taiwan had reported 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one fatality.