Foreigners seeking to come to Taiwan for fertility treatments are to be allowed entry from tomorrow, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said on Saturday.
The restriction is to be lifted due to the time-sensitive nature of reproduction treatment, he said, as the government gradually eases border restrictions following the stabilization of the COVID-19 situation in the country.
From Aug. 1, 2020, during the early stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan allowed foreign nationals to enter the country for medical treatment other than non-urgent medical needs, such as medical examinations and aesthetic medicine.
However, on May 16 last year, following a spike in domestic COVID-19 cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) suspended entry applications for international medical services, with the exception of special or emergency cases, to prioritize access to medical resources for Taiwan nationals, Shih said.
As the COVID-19 situation is improving in Taiwan and the country is gradually returning to normal, it has sufficient medical care capacity, so the CECC has reopened the country to international visitors seeking fertility treatments, he said.
Whether to open the border to foreigners with non-urgent medical needs, as well as tourists, would be assessed later on, he said.
Asked why the new policy takes effect tomorrow, and not on Monday next week, when foreign business travelers are to be allowed entry into Taiwan, Shih said that the applications can be submitted earlier because making arrangements with hospitals, applying for visas and reserving quarantine hotels all take time.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, assisted reproduction accounted for about one-quarter of the international medical services provided in Taiwan, Shih said, adding that such treatment often requires multiple sessions over a long period.
Data released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare showed that in 2020, the number of international visitors seeking medical services fell 41 percent to 2.23 million people from a year earlier.
The services in 2020 generated NT$9.5 billion (US$339.03 million at the current exchange rate), with 41 percent from ASEAN member states and 18.4 percent from China, ministry data showed.
Additional reporting by CNA
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