CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan planning to reopen to foreign visitors seeking medical treatment

06/24/2020 09:51 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) Taiwan is planning to relax its border controls to allow the entry of foreign visitors seeking medical attention, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

The plan will extend to all areas of health care, except physical health checks and cosmetic surgery, said CECC official Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), who is director-general of the Department of Medical Affairs in the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

However, all foreign nationals wishing to visit Taiwan for medical purposes will have to first present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and on arrival in Taiwan, they will be required to self-quarantine for a period of time, Shih said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic subsiding in Taiwan, Shih said, his department is drafting guidelines to reopen Taiwan's borders to foreign nationals seeking medical treatment, based on humanitarian considerations.

When the CECC decides on a date for such reopening, foreign nationals will be able to file an application to enter Taiwan for medical treatment, and they will be permitted to bring one or two close relatives with them, he said.

The applications and all supporting documents will be processed by a special panel commissioned by the health ministry, Shih said.

Last year, 380,000 foreign nationals came to Taiwan for medical treatment, but the program has been discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shih said.

Many of the 380,000 medical tourism visitors in 2019 came for physical health checks and cosmetic procedures, but there were also several cancer patients, he said.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao)

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