CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to test all travelers for COVID-19 on arrival

07/01/2021 06:51 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, July 1 (CNA) Starting Friday, Taiwan will administer COVID-19 PCR tests to all arriving travelers, and will require them to test negative two more times before the end of their quarantine, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The new policy, announced by Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Thursday, comes amid heightened concerns about the infectious Delta variant of the virus, locally transmitted cases of which were recently discovered in Pingtung County.

According to Chen, the policy is expected to be in place for at least one month, with all three tests provided free of charge.

Currently, Taiwan requires travelers who have been to or transited through "key high-risk countries" in the last 14 days to receive a PCR test upon arrival, and again before the end of their 14-day quarantine at a government-designated facility.

Under the new policy, such travelers will also have to take a COVID-19 antigen rapid test between the 10th and 12th day of their quarantine, Chen said.

As of Thursday, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, Peru, Israel, Indonesia and Bangladesh were all classified by the CECC as high-risk countries.

People arriving from other countries, meanwhile, are currently required to stay in a government quarantine center at a daily cost of NT$2,000 (US$71.64) per person, or at an authorized quarantine hotel, but are only given one PCR test before the end of their quarantine.

Starting Friday, however, such travelers will also receive a PCR test upon arrival in Taiwan, as well as a COVID-19 antigen rapid test between the 10th and 12th day of their quarantine, Chen said.

In addition, the CECC will begin carrying out genome sequencing on all COVID-19 cases found among arriving travelers, in order to effectively monitor the Delta variant, Chen added.

Genome sequencing will also be conducted for domestic cases of COVID-19 that are part of a cluster, or have an unknown source of infection, he said.

First detected in India, the Delta variant is likely to become the world's dominant strain of COVID-19, because of its "significantly enhanced transmissibility," according to the World Health Organization.

(By Chen Chieh-ling, Chang Ming-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)

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