Wed, May 07, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Foreign ministry updates the situation for travelers

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Twenty-two countries have issued some kind of travel warnings to their nationals regarding trips to Taiwan because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, while 12 have imposed entry restrictions on Taiwanese nationals, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The ministry put the 22 countries into three categories depending on the level of the travel advisories issued to their citizens.

Spain, Poland, United Arab Emirates and Lithuania have advised their citizens not to travel to Taiwan for any reason.

Malaysia, Canada, South Korea, Thailand, Brunei, New Zealand, Mexico, France, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have advised their nationals to postpone their trips to Taipei, the ministry said.

Eight countries -- the US, Turkey, Italy, Luxemburg, Australia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Estonia -- have advised their nationals to postpone non-essential trips to Taiwan, according to the ministry.

The Ministry of Health of New Zealand updated its SARS travel advice last Friday, upgrading Taiwan from level 2 risk to level 1 risk and advising its nationals to defer travel until further notice.

According to the Canadian government's travel health advisory last Friday, Health Canada continues to recommend that Canadians planning to travel here or China should defer all travel until further notice.

"Health Canada recommends alternate routing be considered, when possible, if a traveler is transiting through the People's Republic of China or Taiwan," the announcement said.

According to the travel advisory issued by the Singaporean ministry of health on Monday, Singaporean nationals were advised "to avoid travel to other SARS affected areas -- Taiwan, Toronto and Mongolia, unless absolutely necessary."

Several countries have also placed restrictions on visiting Taiwanese or other nationals who have traveled to Taiwan.

Vietnam has since April 24 required nationals of SARS-affected areas, including Taiwan, to present a health certificate when applying for tourism visas, the ministry said.

Singapore has required work-permit holders from Taiwan to accept a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in the city state, while imposing no quarantine restrictions on tourists from Taiwan, sources said.

On April 7, Micronesia issued a statement forbidding airlines destined for the Pacific state to allow any passengers to board who had visited Taiwan and other SARS-affected areas within the previous 14 days.

Since late April, the four Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar have banned travelers who had visited SARS-affected areas, including Taiwan, within the previous 10 days, the ministry said.

Jordan has suspended issuing working visas to workers from SARS-affected areas, including Taiwan, the ministry added.

The tiny island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean has suspended issuing entry permits to SARS-affected areas including Taiwan, while the Caribbean state of Barbados has temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Taiwanese nationals, the ministry said.

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