Travellers to Taiwan must test negative for Covid-19

Taiwan is anticipating a new wave of infections, and hopes the new rule will help to curb the virus' spread. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI - Starting on Tuesday (Dec 1), all travellers entering Taiwan are required to present negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results.

The test must be taken within three days of departure from the place of origin.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) announced the new policy on Nov 18. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung cited the upcoming holiday season and influx of returning Taiwanese as the reasons for the change.

Imported infections have risen since October due to an increase in the number of Taiwanese returning to the island as other parts of the world reel from second and third waves of Covid-19 cases.

The CECC is anticipating a new wave of infections in the coming months, and hopes the new rule will help to curb the virus' spread.

Prior to this month, only foreigners were required to be tested and provide proof of their negative results to enter the island. Taiwanese and those with permanent residency were exempted.

With the new policy, the CECC will allow exceptions only for those travelling to Taiwan for emergencies and certain types of work - for instance, crew members of fishing boats would find it difficult to obtain tests on short notice.

The health authorities are also concerned about the uneven quality of PCR tests provided in different countries, which could result in travellers with faulty or fake results.

Those who present fake test results on arrival can face a fine of up to NT$150,000 (S$7,000), said the CECC on Sunday.

If a traveller is arriving from a country where a pre-flight test is not possible, Taiwan will allow him to pay for a test when he arrives, but airlines must arrange for such a passenger to be seated in a separate section on board the plane, away from others who have the proper test results.

As part of efforts to curb Covid-19, Dr Chen on Monday also announced a ban on migrant workers from Indonesia following a spike in the number of Covid-19 infections among them.

More than 70 Indonesians arriving in Taiwan for work, mostly as domestic helpers, have tested positive since the start of November.

The ban will go into effect on Friday (Dec 4) and be in place until at least Dec 18, when the CECC will decide if the restriction will be lifted.

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