CORONAVIRUS/CECC imposes highest travel warning on all overseas destinations

03/20/2020 06:50 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Taiwan will place all foreign countries and territories under its highest Level 3 travel warning starting Saturday, but the move became largely symbolic after a 14-day home quarantine was imposed on all inbound travelers starting Thursday.

The Level 3 warning, which previously applied to 101 countries and territories covering virtually all of Europe and Asia, will be extended to reflect the global spread of COVID-19 to regions including Latin America, Africa and Oceania, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its daily press briefing Friday.

The CECC discourages all non-essential travel to locations under a Level 3 warning and requires people who have traveled in or transited through such areas to home quarantine for 14 days.

The CECC had already mandated a 14-day home quarantine for all travelers arriving in Taiwan and a ban on entry by foreign nationals, with some exceptions, under tightened border controls that took effect Thursday, minimizing the impact of the new warning.

However, travelers who make unnecessary trips to an area under a Level 3 warning may not apply for the government's NT$1,000 (US$33) daily home quarantine subsidy, according to CECC regulations.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan has surged from 50 on March 13 to 135 following the announcement of 27 new cases Friday.

In a televised address Thursday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the country is entering a "critical" second stage in its prevention efforts, as the virus spreads across the Western Hemisphere from its initial epicenter in China.

To prepare for an estimated 14,000 travelers who will return to Taiwan in the coming days, the CECC said surgical face masks will go on sale Saturday in duty-free shops at five Taiwanese airports.

The packs of three adult-size or five child-size masks will cost NT$50 or US$2 each, with a limit of one per customer, and will be logged into the government's mask rationing database to prevent repeat purchases, the CECC said.

Based on anticipated arrival numbers, the CECC said it has allocated 70,000 adult-size masks and 10,000 child-size masks for Taoyuan International Airport, along with smaller amounts for Songshan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung airports.

(By Sunrise Huang and Matthew Mazzetta)

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