CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to allow entry of foreign nationals seeking medical care

07/22/2020 08:24 PM
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CECC official Shih Chung-liang. Photo courtesy of the CECC
CECC official Shih Chung-liang. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, July 22 (CNA) Starting Aug. 1, foreign visitors seeking medical care will be allowed to enter Taiwan, once they meet certain requirements, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday.

The opening will apply to foreign patients seeking treatment in all areas of healthcare, 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.

The spouse or a close family member of the patient will also be admitted, Shih said, adding that a special application will be required to bring a non-family caregiver.

To qualify for entry to Taiwan for medical treatment, foreign visitors will have to show proof of at least US$30,000 (NT$883,028) in financial resources or health insurance for coverage of that amount or over, Shih said.

Furthermore, all foreign nationals wishing to visit Taiwan for medical purposes will have to first present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight, and on arrival in Taiwan they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to the CECC.

They will be allowed to seek medical treatment, as planned, once they test negative again after the quarantine period and will be expected to bear all the costs, the CECC said.

If the patient requires immediate medical attention on arrival, he or she will be admitted to hospital, tested immediately, and assigned to either a single room or a negative pressure isolation room, Shih said.

Applications for entry to Taiwan for medical purposes can be submitted to Taiwan embassies or representative offices overseas, including the Taipei Economic and Cultural offices in Hong Kong and Macau, according to the CECC.

Last year, some 380,000 foreign nationals visited Taiwan for medical treatment, but the program was discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shih said a press conference last month.

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

Meanwhile, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, said many foreign patients who had been visiting Taiwan for treatment have been unable to do so in recent months because of the pandemic.

"The reopening of the borders for medical tourism can be considered as an act of humanity, because Taiwan provides excellent service for procedures such as bone marrow and liver transplants," Chen said.

He said that when Taiwan reopens on Aug. 1 to visitors seeking medical treatment, citizens of all countries will be eligible to apply.

(By William Yen)

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