People wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walk past shops at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, in Taiwan, October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Ben Blanchard/ File Photo
TAIPEI, May 3 (Reuters) – Taiwan announced on Tuesday it was cutting to seven days from 10 mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, its latest relaxation of the rules to try to live with COVID-19 and resume normal life even as the number of domestic infections spikes.
Taiwan has kept its quarantine rules in place as large parts of the rest of Asia have relaxed or lifted them completely, though it had already reduced the time spent in isolation from two weeks to 10 days in March.
Taiwan has reported some 125,000 domestic cases since the beginning of the year, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant, but with more than 99% of those exhibiting no or mild symptoms, the government has relaxed rather than tightened restrictions in what it calls the "new Taiwan model".
Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said the easing of the quarantine rule, which comes into effect next Monday, was made due to Omicron's short incubation period and to take into account "the maintenance of domestic pandemic prevention capacity, socio-economic activities and effective risk control".
All arrivals will still have to take PCR tests upon reaching Taiwan, and on the seventh day of quarantine will be released as long as they are negative from a rapid test, it said.
The requirement for pre-departure negative PCR tests remains in place.
Quarantine for close contacts of infected patients is now three days, as the government seeks to lessen the burden on officials keeping tabs on those in isolation while the number of domestic infections keeps going up.
The government has not given a timetable for completely re-opening its borders, and restrictions remain in place for who can visit. Citizens and foreign residents are free to come and go but most other visitors need special permission.
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