Wed, Feb 12, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Virus Outbreak: Highest alert issued for HK, Macau

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Central Epidemic Control Center (CECC) yesterday raised its travel advisory for Hong Kong and Macau to the highest level, urging people to “avoid nonessential travel” to the territories.

It also announced six conditions for Chinese to extend their stays in Taiwan, and said that it would allow Chinese children of Taiwanese and Chinese couples to enter Taiwan under special circumstances.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said there have been confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with an unspecified infection source, as well as clustered cases, in Hong Kong.

The center raised its travel advisory for Singapore to level 2 — “practice enhanced precautions” — as more than half of the confirmed cases there were indigenous cases and a cluster was traced to a business meeting in Singapore, Chen said.

The city-state has many free-trade zones with high trading volumes and 45 cases have been confirmed in a population of about 5.6 million people, which might suggest a higher risk of infection, he added.

The center also issued a level 1 travel advisory — “practice usual precautions” — for Thailand, as confirmed cases with an unspecified infection source have been reported there and the country has not taken border control measures against visitors from China.

“There is a high risk of infection on airplanes, so we advise people to avoid taking unnecessary flights,” Chen said. “If travel is unavoidable, they should wear a mask throughout the flight.”

Starting today, Chinese visiting Taiwan may extend their stays for 15 days under six conditions, with each application to be evaluated by the National Immigration Agency (NIA), Mainland Affairs Council Department of Legal Affairs head Tsai Ji-ru (蔡志儒) said.

People with business contracts to fulfill in Taiwan, employees of multinational corporations who have been transferred, people on investment or management programs, expatriates, people joining family and those who are on short-term visas to visit relatives can apply for an extension.

NIA Entry and Exit Affairs Division Director Ko Kuang-wei (葛廣薇) said that the applications must be made in person at NIA service stations, and a fee of NT$300 would be charged for each application.

There are about 10,000 people who meet the conditions, Ko added.

As Chinese have been temporarily banned from entering Taiwan, exceptions would be made for Chinese minor children of Taiwanese and Chinese couples, Tsai said.

However, the children must have an Alien Resident Certificate or a long-term visa for visiting family or relatives, Tsai said, adding that the children would be placed in home quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Taiwan.

The CECC said that there were 95 reported cases of severe pneumonia with unknown pathogens nationwide on Monday.

There were a total of 1,617 reports, including 18 people confirmed with 2019-nCoV, and 1,445 people who tested negative, with the rest remaining under quarantine for testing, the center said.

A total of 383 people who had come into contact with confirmed cases are still under home isolation, including 13 people with symptoms, of whom 11 tested negative and two were awaiting results, it said.

Four evacuees who arrived in Taiwan on a charter flight from Wuhan are still in isolation rooms for further testing, the center added.

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