The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that after border controls are eased, it would screen all foreign visitors to Taiwan for COVID-19 upon arrival and permit them entry only if they test negative in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Visitors would also be required to receive follow-up testing and perform self-health management, based on their activities in the nation, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
A mass screening of all foreign visitors at the airport would not be sufficient, as some confirmed cases did not test positive until they were already under home quarantine, he added.
Photo: Liberty Times file photograph
The center would not implement mass screening on all returning Taiwanese because the government is obligated to treat infected citizens, but it is not obliged to treat foreign visitors, and carelessly allowing infected people to enter might cause a local outbreak, he said.
In related news, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday said that it is considering allowing Taiwan’s international airlines to offer cargo services to and from six cities in China — Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Qingdao, Ningbo and Changsha — as part of an effort to aid the airline industry, which has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To contain the coronavirus outbreak, the government had limited cross-strait flights to four Chinese cities — Beijing, Xiamen, Chengdu and Shanghai, home to Hongqiao International Airport, which is closed to international flights.
Ministry officials said that many Chinese cities have ended lockdowns, which have consequently increased demand for goods, but they chose these six cities as they have higher cargo demands than others.
As the nation’s passenger flight service is expected to recover slowly and the government still needs to control the spread of the virus, ministry officials said it hoped that the CECC would allow carriers to offer cargo service to reduce their financial losses.
On the proposal of allowing airlines to increase cross-strait cargo flights, Chen last month said that he “had no reason to object if it is done with proper planning.”
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is deputy head of the center, on May 24 said that the CECC would consider opening cargo flights to more Chinese cities using passenger aircraft, but no airline had yet submitted such a request.
China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 華航) said it would first apply for cargo services in Guangzhou and Shenzhen once it secures permission to do so.
EVA Airlines (EVA, 長榮航空) said it is interested in all cities with high demand for goods, adding that it has submitted requests to the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
CAL’s revenue from cargo services in April reached NT$7.395 billion (US$248 million), whereas revenue from passenger flight service was only NT$400 million.
EVA’s revenue in April also topped NT$4.202 billion, but passenger flight revenue was NT$448 million.
Dimerco Express Group (中菲行國際物流), which offers global freight-forwarding and logistics services, saw consolidated revenue in April rise by 59.46 percent to NT$348 million.
In other news, Star Cruises said it plans to offer island-hopping tours to outlying islands, including Kinmen, Penghu and Lienchiang counties, once it receives government approval.
The cruise ship, Explorer Dream, can accommodate 3,600 passengers, but it would only take 1,000 on the tour, it said.
The tour would last two to four days, the company said, adding that it would observe the Centers for Disease Control’s disease prevention guidelines.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
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