Taiwan to expand virus testing on inbound travelers

02/16/2020 09:26 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Taiwan will expand screening for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by taking samples from all travelers arriving in the country who have a fever or respiratory symptoms starting Monday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

With the number of confirmed cononavirus cases increasing in Singapore and Thailand, the CECC last week raised the travel alert to Singapore to level two, which urges citizens to take "protective measures" if they travel there.

The alert for Thailand has been raised to level one, urging people heading there to "adhere to local preventive measures," according to Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), deputy director-general of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control and a CECC official.

The CECC already tests individuals arriving in Taiwan who have traveled to the two countries over the past two weeks and show symptoms.

The CECC decided to step up testing of travelers from Japan and other countries after questions were raised as to why the testing regime does not apply to those who have recently traveled to Japan, which has the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of China, on a cruise ship owned by Princess Cruises and is currently docked in Yokohama, according to Chuang.

As of late February, Taiwan's daily testing capacity is about 1,300 which is enough to meet demand after the expanded testing parameters come into force Monday, Chuang added.

In addition, the testing parameters will apply to individuals who have come into contact with people arriving in Taiwan from overseas who have a fever or respiratory symptoms and are believed by doctors to be suspected coronavirus cases, as well as those suspected of being part of a cluster infection.

Meanwhile, tests will also be conducted on those suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms who fail to recover after three days of antibiotic treatment and all medical staff with pneumonia-like symptoms.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao)

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