A requirement that Taiwanese and residents should provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 to enter Taiwan is to end on Thursday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it increased the cap for inbound travelers to 40,000 people per week.
“Although the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants [of SARS-CoV-2] are highly contagious, they do not lead to a surge in the rate of severe symptoms,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “As such, restrictions on inbound travelers should be eased.”
The purpose of requiring a negative PCR test was to avoid a domestic outbreak caused by people arriving from overseas, which would increase the burden on healthcare providers, Chen added.
Photo: CNA
However, the government has waived the requirement for Taiwanese, residents and transit passengers for practical reasons, he said.
“Although there has been a significant increase in the number of outbound travelers, most of them are spending only one to two weeks abroad before returning,” he said. “While they are abroad, it might not be easy to locate medical facilities to undergo a PCR test, and other problems arise if they test positive for COVID-19 and are not allowed to board a return flight to Taiwan.”
Despite the end of the PCR test requirement, all travelers returning from abroad must still take a saliva test upon arrival, Chen said.
Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) said that testing capacity would be bolstered.
“We will increase our capacity to process saliva test samples at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport so that 1, 570 passengers can be tested per hour, which should meet demand during peak arrival hours,” Lin said.
Meanwhile, the weekly cap for arrivals was increased to 40,000 from 25,000.
The number of international arrivals has gradually risen due to the summer break and increased economic activity, Chen said.
“Prior to the enforcement of the policy, we had estimated that COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron subvariants could reach 100,000 to 200,000 per day,” Chen said.
“However, while there was a period in May when more than 90,000 cases were reported per day, the daily count has never exceeded 100,000,” he said. “The development of the domestic COVID-19 outbreak has been consistent with our forecasts.”
Lin said that quarantine hotels can accommodate 41,300 people per week, or 55 percent of inbound travelers.
The rest would quarantine at home based on the “one person per residence” principle, Lin said.
To address cases of people contracting the virus after picking up family members returning from abroad, the main airports in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung have installed electronic scrolling message boards to remind people that they need to observe disease prevention guidelines, he said.
Chen said that excitement might be a factor.
“People might be too excited at seeing family members so they forget that there are risks of contracting the virus by coming in close contact with people returning from pandemic-affected countries,” Chen said, adding that they should observe social distancing guidelines and wear masks.
Asked about quarantine requirements and a possible shift from three days of home quarantine plus four days of self-initiated disease prevention to seven days of self-initiated disease prevention, Chen said that the CECC would “take it one step at a time” over policy changes.
“We understand what people want and would make the best arrangement by closely monitoring the situation,” he said.
Taiwan is likely to face another wave of COVID-19 infections next month or in September, but it is unlikely to see a rapid surge in cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 27,684 new cases yesterday — down 12 percent from a week earlier — and 89 deaths. Yesterday was the first day that the government allowed citizens, resident certificate holders and transit passengers to board flights to Taiwan without having to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result. Some were concerned that the new policy could lead to a domestic outbreak of BA.4
CHINA THREAT: This year’s exercises would enhance the international coalition’s strength as a more ‘distributed’ and ‘lethal’ force, US Admiral Samuel Paparo said This year’s US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises are “not aimed at China,” but are being conducted to hone skills and technologies that would be “most salient for potential conflict in the years ahead,” US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel Paparo said. Paparo was discussing, among other subjects, the US military’s commitment to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in a Defense News story published online yesterday. Started in 1977 and held every two years, RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise and is administered by US forces based at Pearl Harbor
TAIWAN’S BEST FRIEND: Vice President William Lai attended the private funeral, drawing China’s ire, which said his visit was a ‘political trick that will not succeed’ Mourners yesterday lined the streets of central Tokyo to bid farewell to assassinated former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, as his hearse was driven past political landmarks after a private funeral. The nation’s longest-serving prime minister was gunned down on Friday while campaigning, in a crime that rattled Japan and prompted an outpouring of international condemnation and grief. His funeral was held at Tokyo’s Zojoji temple, with relatives, foreign dignitaries and close acquaintances in attendance, including Vice President William Lai (賴清德). Elsewhere in the temple compound, thousands of well-wishers lined up in the humid heat to pay their respects before a photograph of
ANNUAL DEFENSE ACT: The bill, which still requires approval in the Senate, would require the US president to invite Taiwan to the 2024 Rim of the Pacific exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed an annual defense policy bill with provisions to reinforce the country’s partnership with Taiwan, including requiring the US president to invite the nation’s military to join US-led drills in the Asia-Pacific region. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which authorizes annual programs and spending for the US Department of Defense and other US national security programs, was passed by 329 yes votes, while 101 representatives voted against the bill. Several pro-Taiwan bills were passed as amendments to the act. They included the Taiwan Peace and Stability Act, which focuses on enhancing deterrence

source

Shop Sephari