From Wednesday next week, overseas workers diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) will not have to be deported if their employers agree to assist with their treatment and workers agree to join the DOTS (directly observed treatment, short-course) program, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The existing regulation on overseas workers with infectious diseases demands the termination of their employment permit.
The CDC said the communicable diseases listed includes TB, tuberculous pleurisy, HIV infection and Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy).
The centers said that an average of 12,000 Taiwanese and 260 overseas workers test positive for TB annually, with most overseas people having been infected in their home countries.
When asked whether a TB-infected foreign worker would still face deportation if his or her employer refused to help, CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said he believes most employers would be willing to help to avoid the costs of re-hiring staff.
“Two weeks of medication is generally enough to cancel the transmissibility of TB,” Chou said, adding that the effectiveness of the therapy has made the original restriction unnecessary.
However, Chou said people suffering multidrug-resistant TB, which requires a longer period of treatment, would be ineligible to stay in the country under the new amendment.
In March next year, employers will be able to send employee medical reports directly to the health bureaus, without needing to go via hospitals.
The CDC said this will streamline the process for the employers of 99 percent of foreign workers receiving health exams annually.