A COVID-19 “travel bubble” between Taiwan and Palau is expected to resume on Saturday at the earliest, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported 12 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and two deaths.
The “travel bubble” — which allows travel between Taiwan and Palau with eased disease prevention requirements — was launched in April, but suspended the following month due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan.
The center received and reviewed documents on reopening the travel bubble, and the disease prevention measures are unchanged from before, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
Photo courtesy of KKday
Under the arrangement, Taiwanese travelers to Palau would need a negative result on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test administered at the airport to board the plane, he said.
They would be given a saliva PCR test at the airport upon their return to Taiwan and need to undergo five days of enhanced self-health management, followed by another PCR test and nine more days of self-health management if they test negative, he added.
Upon their return, travelers could practice the enhanced self-health management at home on the condition that there is only one person per room, or they can go to a quarantine hotel, Chen said.
As Palau is COVID-19 free, travelers to the country should wear a mask when in public, he added.
Asked whether the first people to fly to Palau under the reopened travel bubble would depart on Saturday, Chen said: “That is similar to what I’ve heard.”
Chen reported 12 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and two deaths.
Five of the 12 local cases tested positive during isolation or upon its completion, he said, adding that the infection sources of seven cases had been identified, while three were unclear and two were being investigated.
New Taipei City reported the most cases, with six, followed by Taipei with four and Keelung with two, Chen said.
The cases in New Taipei City include a cluster in an apartment building that spread to the surrounding neighborhood.
The city’s Department of Health said that three residents of a building in Yonghe District (永和) had been among the cases reported in the past two weeks and that expanded testing in the community discovered two more cases, which were reported yesterday.
The city has placed 231 of the building’s residents under home isolation, with an offer of free accommodation at a quarantine hotel for anyone unable to follow the one person per room rule, the department said, adding that meals are to be delivered to those in isolation.
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