CORONAVIRUS/Business travelers with shortened quarantine relatively safe: experts

06/22/2020 05:02 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 22 (CNA) The countries from which Taiwan is allowing incoming business travelers to apply to shorten the length of their mandatory 14-day quarantine are considered relatively safe, public health experts said Monday.

Starting that day, Taiwan is permitting business travelers from 15 countries and territories classified as low risk and low-to-moderate risk to remain in quarantine for five and seven days after their arrival, respectively, and to come out of quarantine if their self-paid COVID-19 test is negative.

Of the countries, only Bhutan has expressed concern over the mathematical equation used to calculate the risk of individual countries, said Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙), vice dean of National Taiwan University's College of Public Health (NTUCPH), at a weekly press briefing in Taipei.

The mathematical model takes into account the number of confirmed cases, recoveries, and death rate to calculate a country's "blocking index," which ideally should be under one.

Bhutan had an index of around 1.4, while all the other countries had an index lower than one, Chen pointed out.

"Even though the number of infections in Bhutan is low, the rate of recovery in the country is very slow," Chen said.

Bhutan has a total of 68 confirmed cases with 32 recovered and zero deaths, according to the country's Ministry of Health COVID-19 situation report on Monday.

The shortened quarantine applies to business travelers who have received permission to enter Taiwan, plan to spend less than three months in the country, and are visiting to conduct short-term business activities such as product inspections, after-sales service, technical training or contract-signing, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) press briefing on June 17.

They must also have departed from a country or zone classified by the CECC as having a low or low-to-moderate COIVD-19 infection risk and must not have traveled to any other countries in the past 14 days, said Chen, who also heads the CECC.

The CECC published a list of 11 low risk countries and zones -- New Zealand, Australia, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia and Bhutan.

It also classified South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore as low-to-moderate risk countries, adding that the list will be updated every two weeks to reflect current conditions.

Taiwan has banned entry to most foreign nationals since March 19 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with the exception of those who hold an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) or documents proving they are in Taiwan for diplomatic, other official purposes, or to fulfill business contracts.

Taiwan has been gradually easing its COVID-19 restrictions since June 7, when it recorded 56 straight days without any domestically transmitted infections.

(By William Yen)

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