CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan relaxes rules on self-paid COVID-19 tests

05/23/2020 06:11 PM
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File photo courtesy of Chi Mei Medical Center
File photo courtesy of Chi Mei Medical Center

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Taiwan has relaxed its rules on self-paid tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a time when infections have shown signs of easing in the country, leaving its testing capacity adequate, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Saturday.

The CECC said that as many countries that have imposed travel bans to contain the virus spread still need testing results before allowing foreign nationals to enter, Taiwan has decided to expand the coverage of self-paid testing for those who plan to go overseas.

Previously, Taiwan had only allowed Taiwanese citizens to take self-paid COVID-19 tests if they wanted to travel to countries in Southeast Asia, China and Macau to visit relatives residing overseas for reasons including accidents, serious illness or other urgent situations.

The CECC said self-paid tests now are available to local people who can go anywhere for work or to pursue higher education, while their spouses and other family members who travel with them can also take the tests at their own expense.

In addition to Taiwanese citizens, foreigners and Chinese nationals, including people from Hong Kong and Macau, who reside in Taiwan and plan to go overseas, are eligible to self-paid tests, the CECC said, adding that such tests are also available to their spouses and other family members planning to travel with them, the CECC said.

The CECC said those in Taiwan planning to go overseas can visit 18 hospitals around the country, including National Taiwan University Hospital, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, China Medical University Hospital, National Cheng Kung University Hospital and Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, to take the tests.

The CECC added that the self-paid tests can be taken once every three months.

According to the CECC, the cost of the self-paid test will range between NT$4,000 (US$134) and NT$10,000, depending on the hospital.

Despite the move to raise the availability of self-paid testing, the CECC said the global COVID-19 pandemic remains severe and the highest travel warning imposed by the government remains in place, urging people to avoid unnecessary trips abroad.

As of Saturday, Taiwan had reported 441 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 350 imported and 55 domestically transmitted, with only seven deaths. Worldwide, however, the confirmed cases have hit 5,231,502 in 187 countries and regions, with a total of 337,037 fatalities, according to the CECC.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Frances Huang)

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