The government plans to ban medical personnel from traveling abroad without prior approval amid the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world, to pre-empt the need for them to be quarantined upon their return to Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
The center is to hold a medical system preparedness meeting this week and impose a ban on healthcare practitioners visiting other nations, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
The policy is to prevent them from being placed under a mandatory 14-day home quarantine after they return to Taiwan, which would affect the nation’s already limited medical workforce, Chen said.
Applications to travel for a conference or other special reasons should be made to local health departments, he said.
In addition, to help healthcare personnel detect possible COVID-19 infections when a person seeks medical attention, the National Health Insurance (NHI) Administration will mark the NHI cards of Taiwanese upon their arrival back in Taiwan with their travel history, the minister said.
In other developments, the Taichung and Tainan city governments on Saturday advised their city officials not to travel abroad, following Penghu County earlier in the day banning its officials from taking leave to travel to nations and areas considered at high risk for COVID-19.
Taichung Personnel Department Director Chen Shan-ken (陳杉根) said an official advisory would be issued today to all city departments.
Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said that vacation and leave requests from city officials planning to visit nations for which the CECC has issued level 2 or level 3 travel advisories would not have their requests approved.
Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Li-shan (張麗善) said all planned official county visits abroad have been canceled, and county officials are being urged to cancel all non-essential overseas travel.
The Keelung City Government yesterday said that as of today, its officials are barred from traveling to China, Hong Kong and Macau and all nations for which a level 1, 2 or 3 travel advisory has been issued.
However, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said that city officials make their own vacation plans and she believes no one would want to go to places listed as epidemic areas, so there was no need for the city to impose its own ban.
Additional reporting by CNA
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