The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would conduct a rolling review of entry restrictions and testing requirements for arrivals from China after Beijing on Monday announced that mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for overseas arrivals would end on Jan. 8.
However, Taiwan would not follow Japan in tightening quarantine measures for travelers from China, said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC’s spokesman, after people in China yesterday rushed to book trips abroad given the promise of eased requirements at home.
The CECC would continue to provide at-home rapid test kits for travelers arriving at international airports, Chuang said.
They would also be subject to the “5+N” rule — five days of home isolation, followed by up to seven days of self-health management until they test negative with a rapid test — if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 in Taiwan, he said.
Some Chinese might face hurdles when they go abroad as some countries have reinstated testing requirements for incoming travelers from China, including India and Italy, while Japan yesterday announced that from Friday it would require COVID-19 testing on arrival for travelers from China.
Rising cases in China were “causing growing concern in Japan,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
In Beijing, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that countries should uphold “scientific and appropriate” disease controls that “should not affect normal personnel exchanges.”
Asked if Taiwan might follow China in downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC, said that Taiwan is moving at its own pace, so adjustments would be announced at an appropriate time.
The CECC would reference other countries such as Japan and the US when determining the right time to downgrade COVID-19, Wang said.
It would be shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday at the soonest, he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese reacted with joy and rushed to book trips after Beijing’s announcement that it would scrap mandatory quarantine after almost three years of self-imposed isolation.
“I felt like the epidemic is finally over... The travel plans I made three years ago may now become a reality,” said Fan Chengcheng, 27, a Beijing office worker.
A Shanghai resident surnamed Chen said that the policy shift “felt like someone has pressed the button to end the movie,” adding that it would allow her parents in Britain to visit her more easily.
“Finally, China’s going back to normal,” she said. “It shows there are people who still care about global commerce and the impact on the Chinese economy.”
Online searches for flights abroad surged on the news, with travel platform Tongcheng reporting an 850 percent jump in searches and a 10-fold spike in inquiries about visas, state media reported.
Rival platform Trip.com Group said that the volume of searches for popular overseas destinations rose by 10 times year-on-year within half an hour of the announcement.
Users were particularly keen on trips to Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and South Korea, it said.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia and CNA
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