Taiwanese who had been stuck in China’s Hubei Province due to the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Taiwan late on Sunday on a special flight and are now in quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center said.
The 153 evacuees arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 10:20pm on a government-
contracted China Airlines flight that departed from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 8:58pm, the center said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, yesterday said that the flight was delayed slightly, but the screening procedures conducted after the passengers disembarked went relatively smoothly, taking only about 1.5 hours.
They were taken to a quarantine center to begin 14 days of mandatory isolation, Chen said.
After the passengers were settled at the quarantine center, Taoyuan General Hospital deputy superintendent Chen Ri-chang (陳日昌) and six physicians went to their rooms to perform COVID-19 swab tests, with the procedures completed early yesterday morning, Chen said.
The specimens were sent to ministry’s lab in Taipei and tested immediately, he said, adding that although three specimens were flawed and more were taken, the results of the other 150 people were negative for COVID-19.
Taiwan’s Border Affairs Corps said that 159 Taiwanese in Hubei had reserved seats on the flight, but some of them failed to make it to Shanghai in time, while a few others were not allowed to board because their travel documents had expired.
It was the first of two special flights contracted by the Straits Exchange Foundation to bring home Taiwanese in the Chinese province, where restrictions on outbound travel were lifted on Thursday last week after several weeks of lockdown due to the pandemic.
The second flight was scheduled to depart yesterday afternoon, with those with reservations required to make their own way to Shanghai.
In other news, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said that Taiwan had planned to donate 10,000 protective gowns to China, delivering them on an Eastern Airlines charter flight, but the plan fell through when the airline did not have enough time to make the necessary preparations.
The flight was the first evacuation of Taiwanese from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus emerged, bringing back people who were stranded there after the city was sealed off.
The Eastern Airlines flight arrived in Taiwan on Feb. 3 and Taipei had intended for the 10,000 protective gowns to be placed on the plane for its return to China, MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said.
However the airline felt “it did not have time to undergo the necessary procedures” and so declined the gowns, he said.
The issue has not been raised again during the two sides’ discussions on additional charter flights, as there have been many other matters to deal with, he said.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts,
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two