The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expects an increase in the number of returning travelers in the coming days, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the varying qualities of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test reports from other countries is a big concern.
Chen, who heads the center, was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders scholarship award ceremony in Taipei.
“As the global COVID-19 situation is worsening, and with some holidays coming up, there might be an increase in the number of overseas Taiwanese returning to Taiwan,” he said.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
The expected increase in numbers in the next few days is also linked to a policy requiring all arriving passengers to provide the result of a PCR test issued within three days of boarding a flight to Taiwan, starting tomorrow, he said.
Asked how the authenticity of PCR results provided by arriving passengers could be verified, Chen said “it is very difficult … the different levels of quality of PCR test results [from different countries], the possibility of fabricated PCR test results, and even how to prove that individuals have been vaccinated ... these are all difficult problems.”
Therefore, the center cannot only rely on the PCR results taken before departure when judging whether an arriving passenger is infected with COVID-19, he said.
Asked to comment on public concern that travelers would need to take another PCR test if their scheduled flight is suddenly canceled, Chen said that would be an exceptional condition, so the traveler would not need to take another test or face a fine.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman, told a news conference that it is difficult to identify fake reports, and that the center could try to find patterns of possible fake reports among those received.
The center encourages people to report anyone they know of who has used fabricated PCR test result documents, he said, adding that people who provide a fake report face a fine of NT$10,000 to NT$150,000 for breaching the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法).
Meanwhile, Chuang said that three Indonesian women who came to Taiwan to work have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the country to 651.
Two of them did not experience symptoms in Taiwan, but tested positive in a mandatory test taken on Friday before leaving centralized quarantine, Chuang said.
The other case had an abnormal sense of smell on Tuesday last week while staying in centralized quarantine, but did not report the condition, as she thought the symptom was mild and brief, he said, adding that she also tested positive in a mandatory test on Friday.
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