The Immigration Agency yesterday said that it had cancelled the entry permits for all 429 people in 24 tour groups from Wuhan, China, scheduled to arrive in Taiwan before the end of the month to help prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The agency said that it would suspend the review of applications from Wuhan to attend to professional matters, do business, have a health checkup or undergo cosmetic surgery.
The agency reminded residents of China’s Hubei Province that they would not be allowed for the time being to visit any of the nation’s outlying islands on “small three links” visas.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
It called on Chinese residents in the nation and those who have returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday to implement measures to protect themselves from the virus and stop its spread.
The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday said that it would temporarily suspend trips by independent travelers and tour groups from Wuhan.
At a meeting, the representatives of the Tourism Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and the Immigration Agency agreed that personnel exchanges across the Taiwan Strait should be avoided in the short term.
The council asked the agency to tighten review of travel applications from Wuhan and to strongly advise people who have already obtained an entry permit to delay their trip.
People who have questions about the virus and its prevention can call the free 1922 hotline or 0800-001922, it said.
The council said it has asked the Straits Exchange Foundation and Taiwan Strait Tourism Association to remind Chinese authorities to screen Republic of China citizens returning home from Wuhan.
The government has issued an “orange” travel alert for Wuhan and urges people not to visit there unless necessary, in which case they should take precautions, it said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday said that it is using existing channels of communication to request that 178 tourists from Wuhan, scheduled to arrive today and stay until Wednesday next week, cancel their trips in view of the viral outbreak, which has so far killed nine people.
The Tourism Bureau earlier in the week said that 83 tourists from Taiwan were scheduled to visit Wuhan next week, but yesterday added that the local travel agencies have been notified that the trips should be canceled.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) convened an emergency response meeting yesterday morning, at which he instructed the bureau to monitor the whereabouts of 130 Chinese tourists from Wuhan who are traveling in the nation, as well as to use existing channels of communication to help cancel the trips of the 178 Chinese yet to arrive.
Ministry officials would enforce containment measures set in place by the Centers for Disease Control, Lin said, adding that the personnel should understand the virus’ unique characteristics.
“Scientific information will keep them from underestimating the gravity of the situation and help them take the proper course of action to keep the virus from spreading,” Lin added.
Lin has written on Facebook that local airlines should consider canceling flights to Wuhan, but he said at the meeting that such a measure needs further assessment, as it might disrupt the plans of Taiwanese traveling to Wuhan for business.
The government has yet to receive complete information on how the disease has spread to other Chinese provinces, so the ministry should focus on educating people about illness prevention, he said.
China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) announced it would cancel six flights to Wuhan with low load factors from Feb. 10 to Feb. 27.
StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空), which launched service to Macau today, said that flight attendants would be wearing masks and that the aircraft would be sterilized to ensure the health of crew members and passengers.
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