CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan suspends consular services in India over COVID-19 concerns

07/12/2020 08:26 PM
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Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. (CNA file photo for illustrative purposes only )
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. (CNA file photo for illustrative purposes only )

New Delhi, July 12 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in India will suspend consular services from July 13-26 due to health concerns after the office recently received an application to enter Taiwan from an Indian national who tested positive for COVID-19.

Although the COVID-19 patient did not personally visit the office, consular services staff touched the document submitted by the patient through a travel agency, and the person from the travel agency who delivered the document may have come in contact with the patient.

Consequently, the representative office decided to suspend consular services for 14 days starting Monday to disinfect the office.

India's representative office in Taiwan arranged a China Airlines (CAL) charter flight that left for Delhi on Sunday morning to bring Indian nationals stranded in Taiwan because of the COVID-19 pandemic back home.

The CAL return flight, scheduled to arrive at Taoyuan International Airport later Sunday, was then to bring home 33 Taiwanese expatriates in India and 17 Indian people who hold a resident certificate or work in Taiwan.

The Indian national who applied for an entry permit to Taiwan was hoping to get on that flight, but was later diagnosed with COVID-19, Taiwan's representative office in India said, citing a notification letter it received Saturday.

Some Taiwanese businessmen in India expressed concerns that Taiwan's new entry regulations could constitute a loophole in the country's disease-prevention efforts, according to the representative office.

The new measures, which took effect July 4, exempt foreign nationals with valid resident permits in Taiwan or resident visas from having to provide negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test results when entering the country.

That means Indians with residence in Taiwan who have COVID-19 but do not show any symptoms could take advantage of the new entry regulations to enter the country, the businessmen believe.

Because the new measures that took effect July 4 have yet to be communicated to Taiwan's office in India, the Indian national, who has a resident visa for Taiwan, still had to apply for entry documents to Taiwan due to COVID-19 restrictions, and his case was identified.

Had the exemption already been in effect, however, the applicant would have not had to present a negative COVID-19 test and could have gotten on Sunday's flight, possibly infecting others, the businessmen argued, creating a gap in Taiwan's disease prevention network.

As of Sunday, India had more than 849,000 COVID-19 cases, with 28,600 coming in the past 24 hours, and 551 deaths, according to India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

(By Charles Kang and Evelyn Kao)

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