President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan does not qualify as community spread as stated on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site, given that the nation only has isolated cases, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the US to correct Taiwan’s status.
In its latest information, the CDC included Taiwan as a travel destination with apparent community spread of COVID-19, alongside Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
While visiting a vaccine center at the National Health Research Institutes in Miaoli County yesterday, Tsai echoed remarks by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), saying that Taiwan’s situation does not constitute community spread and that members of the public should not panic.
Photo: Cheng Ming-hsiang, Taipei Times
“We will do our best to ensure everyone’s good health,” Tsai said, adding that disease-prevention efforts would always be performed to the highest standard.
Asked about the US move, foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement that the status of COVID-19 in Taiwan does not meet the criteria set by the CDC as necessary for community spread.
For community spread, the CDC states that the infection source of a certain confirmed case cannot be identified, the number of local infection cases far exceeds that of overseas infections, a chain of continuous transmission has been identified and clusters of infection are extensive.
The ministry has asked the US to correct Taiwan’s status to reflect its current situation, Ou added.
In related news, Taiwanese stranded onboard the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, are scheduled to return to Taiwan today on a charter flight operated by China Airlines (中華航空), the ministry said yesterday.
The flight is scheduled to depart from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 1:30pm, land at Tokyo Haneda International Airport and return to Taiwan at 10:30pm.
After being quarantined in their cabins for 14 days, Diamond Princess passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 were allowed to disembark on Wednesday.
Five Taiwanese passengers who disembarked on Wednesday were taken to a hotel after being received by Taiwanese officials, including Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), at the Port of Yokohama.
Hsieh yesterday received another nine Taiwanese, expressing sympathy to them on behalf of the government.
Five Taiwanese passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and were hospitalized in Japan, but 19 Taiwanese were eligible to take the charter flight, Ou said yesterday.
“The ministry hopes to repatriate all 19, but respects the decision of each person, so the number returning on the charter flight is uncertain,” Ou said, adding that additional tests and a 14-day home quarantine would be required of those who return.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan and Lu Yi-hsuan
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