The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking to clarify a decision by Italian authorities to ban flights from Taiwan, as a novel coronavirus outbreak first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan spreads around the world.
After Italy on Friday confirmed two 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases, it suspended all flights from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau until April 28.
The ban affects Taiwan-based carriers China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Airways.
CAL operates three flights per week between Taoyuan and Rome, while EVA was set to start direct flights to Milan on Feb. 18.
CAL said late last night that Italian aviation authorities had approved its request to send an airplane to Rome today to fly Taiwanese passengers back home the following day.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement on Friday that Italy has not restricted flights from other nations that have reported more infection cases than Taiwan; therefore, its ban on Taiwan cannot be said to be related to the rate of infection in Taiwan.
The Italian government made a wrong decision based on wrong identification, she said.
The ministry is seeking to clarify the situation with the Italian government through its overseas offices and like-minded countries, she said, urging Rome to rectify its decision soon.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) yesterday said that it is unfair that Taiwan has met the same treatment as China, even though Taiwan has better healthcare and disease prevention standards, as well as control over the virus’ spread compared with other countries.
In related news, the Hanoi government last night lifted a ban on flights between Vietnam and Taiwan, reversing a decision it made yesterday afternoon, when it revoked permits for flights from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Additional reporting by Reuters and Cheng Wei-chi
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