Taiwan stops sending tour groups to Wuhan due to outbreak

01/22/2020 03:14 PM
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Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on Wednesday announced an immediate cessation of all tour groups visiting Hubei Province in central China as a measure to prevent the further spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in the provincial capital Wuhan City last month, following the first confirmed case of the virus in the country on Tuesday.

In addition to stopping tour groups visiting the Chinese province, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) also said the ministry is in talks with the Chinese side to ask them to stop sending tour groups from Wuhan to Taiwan, citing the fact that Wuhan authorities have already urged citizens to avoid leaving the city as a way of containing the ongoing outbreak.

Lin made the comments during a transportation ministry meeting held earlier Wednesday regarding the ministry's measures to combat the 2019-nCoV.

According to numbers provided by the Tourism Bureau, a total of 83 Taiwanese in seven tour groups were scheduled to visit Wuhan from Jan. 21-29.

Meanwhile, a total of 10 groups consisting of 178 Chinese nationals from Wuhan are scheduled to visit Taiwan from Jan. 23-29, said the bureau.

Lin said Tuesday that for those Chinese visitors from Wuhan who are already in Taiwan, the Tourism Bureau has asked tour group operators and tour guides to closely monitor their health.

Meanwhile, Lin said the government is so far not considering halting all flights between Taiwan and Wuhan since many Taiwanese in the Chinese city are waiting to return to the country for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 23-29.

The ministry's Civil Aeronautics Administration has asked airline companies to take measures to combat the 2019-nCoV on inbound flights while customs are also beefing up quarantine measures, according to the minister.

On Tuesday, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upgraded its travel alert for Wuhan to the highest level in its three-tier system due to the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus, calling on nationals not to visit the city unless absolutely necessary.

The decision was made after the CDC confirmed the country's first case of 2019-nCoV, carried by a Taiwanese woman who was recently in the central Chinese city.

The woman, who works in Wuhan, reported to quarantine officials at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that she had a fever on returning Monday, according to the nation's epidemic response command center.

China has so far confirmed 440 cases, reporting nine deaths, while cases of the virus have also been reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

A quarantine official at Kansai International Airport in Japan.
A quarantine official at Kansai International Airport in Japan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday raised the possibility that the new virus may have "sustained human-to-human transmission," revising its previous estimation that such transmission was limited.

The WHO defines sustained human-to-human transmission as transmitting easily from one person to the next and then further onward -- while limited person to person transmission means a virus dies out after infecting a person or a few people in clusters of individuals in close contact with each other.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Joseph Yeh)

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