Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Virus Outbreak: Temporary ban on HK, Macau residents

CECC:Exceptions will be made for certain categories of people, the health minister said. A second person who had the virus could be released from hospital this week

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A woman yesterday photographs a notice in New Taipei City showing where people can buy alcohol to disinfect against the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Photo: David Chang, EPA-EFE

Starting today, visitors and students from Hong Kong and Macau are banned from entering Taiwan, with a few exceptions, as part of the government’s temporary measures aimed at preventing the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The outbreak in China’s Guangdong Province is still serious, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, and “there is very frequent and high cross-border mobility between Guangdong and Hong Kong or Macau,” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei.

“Although we have already announced that passengers from or those who have transited in Hong Kong or Macau must be put under home quarantine for 14 days, we want to enhance disease prevention at the border,” he said.

Exceptions would be made for people with business contracts to fulfill, multinational corporation employees who are being transferred, and the spouses or children under the age of 18 of Taiwanese who have already obtained an Alien Resident Certificate, he said.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chen Ming-chi (陳明祺) said those exempted would be put under 14-day home quarantine upon arrival.

Hong Kongers and Macanese who have obtained entry and exit permits would be asked to postpone their trips, Chen Ming-chi said.

Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said the ministry has asked universities to propose plans to assist Chinese students in enrolling in courses, keeping their student status, taking leaves of absence, as well as organizing online courses.

It is reviewing the plans, which are to be expanded to include students from Hong Kong and Macau, he said.

There are a total of 10,844 students from Hong Kong and Macau studying in Taiwan, and 7,972 of them have not returned to Taiwan since the winter break.

As the CECC announced that starting on Friday travelers from Hong Kong and Macau would have to enter home quarantine for 14 days, students who entered Taiwan between Friday and yesterday would have to stay at home for 14 days before returning to school, Pan added.

Meanwhile, Straits Exchange Foundation spokesperson Tsai Meng-chun (蔡孟君) said the foundation would remain in close contact with Taiwanese in China and provide timely assistance if they need help, after Beijing authorities announced that the city was enacting 10 “enclosed management” measures to boost inspection and screening efforts on people returning to Beijing, and tighten controls on people entering and exiting certain facilities and communities.

Shanghai announced similar steps.

Asked if the MAC has measures in place after all cross-strait flights, except those between Taiwan and five Chinese airports, were suspended as of yesterday, and Beijing and Shanghai enacted semi-lockdowns, Chen Ming-chi said the council’s response would be decided according to the CECC’s instructions.

Whether all cross-strait flights should be suspended was still under discussion, he said.

In other developments, the CECC said a second 2019-nCoV patient could soon be discharged.

Two consecutive tests showed the man is not contagious and he could be released this week.

The businessman — who returned from Wuhan on Jan. 12 — was Taiwan’s 10th confirmed case, the health minister said.

Including the businessman, a total of 477 people have been identified as having come in contact with the first seven people in Taiwan confirmed to have the coronavirus, Chen Shih-chung said.

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