The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed that a humanitarian charter flight from Guam to Taiwan is to depart on Monday next week, with Taiwanese and US passengers on board.
Taiwan on Friday last week imposed a temporary ban on arrivals by non-resident foreigners, after it identified a person infected with the new COVID-19 variant from the UK.
The Guam Daily Post yesterday reported that a China Airlines flight, arranged by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Guam in coordination with the local government, would transport about 50 people.
Photo courtesy of Guam Visitors Bureau
The passengers include Guam residents who are unable to seek off-island medical treatment due to canceled flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Taiwanese who were working in Guam and Saipan, but have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the report said.
As of yesterday, the US territory with a population of about 165,000 had a total of 7,378 cases, with 123 fatalities.
Guam’s government offers free COVID-19 vaccinations to residents aged 60 years and older.
The flight was requested by an overseas compatriot community in Guam, which filed an application with China Airlines, citing humanitarian and medical needs, while TECO offered administrative assistance in collaboration with Guam’s government, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.
Due to the pandemic, direct flights between Guam and Taipei have been suspended since March last year, upsetting the plans of many severely ill patients in Guam to seek treatment in Taiwan, Ou said.
With the charter flight, the patients and their families would be able to receive treatment in Taiwan, she said, adding that related arrangements have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Travelers would have to comply with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s quarantine regulations, she said.
Guam Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero on Dec. 16 expressed her hope to visit Taiwan this month for talks about a “travel bubble.”
Asked about the governor’s visit, Ou reiterated the foreign ministry’s previous statement that it is in close communication with the governor and would provide more information at a proper time.
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