Updated on 05-Mar-2021
Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (Nov. 18) announced new measures to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus this winter, when cases around the globe are expected to spike.
During his weekly press conference Wednesday afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced the details of the "Autumn and Winter Epidemic Prevention Project." The new policy will go into effect on Dec. 1 and will focus on three areas: border quarantine measures, community epidemic prevention, and medical response.
Border quarantine measures
All inbound and transit passengers must submit a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test report within three days of their flight to Taiwan.
In order to strengthen epidemic prevention, from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, 2021, all passengers, regardless of nationality or purpose of arrival, who enter or transit through Taiwan’s airports must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test three days before their scheduled flight to Taiwan. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications will supervise airlines to ensure the veracity of the test reports.
If a passenger is found to have submitted a false test report or refuses, evades, or obstructs relevant quarantine measures, they will be subject to a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$350) to NT$150,000. Those caught creating a false test report will also be held criminally responsible for the offense of forging instruments or seals (偽造文書印文罪).
Community epidemic prevention
Masks must be worn when entering and leaving eight categories of places.
Starting on Dec. 1, masks will be mandatory in eight categories of places, including medical care facilities, mass transit, personal consumption locations, educational institutions, exhibitions and sporting events, entertainment and leisure venues, houses of worship, and public service and customer service centers. Those who fail to wear masks in these contexts and do not heed requests to do so will face a fine of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 for violating the "Communicable Disease Control Act" (傳染病防治法).
If there is a need to eat or drink in the above settings, masks can be temporarily removed on the condition that a proper social distance is maintained or that appropriate barrier equipment is in place.
The CECC is aiming to strengthen notifications and testing and establish rewards for hospitals that test patients.
In order to prevent the medical system from facing the double burden of the Wuhan coronavirus and influenza this autumn and winter, Chen explained that the special project will bolster notifications and testing — both important parts of the epidemic prevention strategy.
four measures have been developed:
- Medical institutions implementing mandatory notification of infectious diseases
- Reward criteria for "strengthening screening of pneumonia patients in outpatient and emergency clinics," "strengthening inpatient screening," and "strengthening health monitoring of medical care workers"
- Enhanced notification and testing through the health insurance system reminder
- Revising inspection and related processing procedures for persons without COVID-19-related symptoms undergoing home quarantine/isolation
The CECC has advised clinicians to be vigilant, strengthen notifications and testing, and strengthen community monitoring to report or refer suspected cases. At the same time, it maintains that local governments should continue to supervise medical institutions under their jurisdiction and consolidate the epidemic prevention capabilities of those facilities.
Taiwan reopens on Aug. 1 to visitors seeking medical treatment, citizens of all countries will be eligible to apply.
Starting Aug. 1, foreign visitors seeking medical care will be allowed to enter Taiwan, once they meet certain requirements, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.
The opening will apply to foreign patients seeking treatment in all areas of healthcare, except physical health checks and cosmetic surgery, said CECC official Shih Chung-liang, who is director-general of the Department of Medical Affairs in the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The spouse or a close family member of the patient will also be admitted, Shih said, adding that a special application will be required to bring a non-family caregiver.
To qualify for entry to Taiwan for medical treatment, foreign visitors will have to show proof of at least US$30,000 (NT$883,028) in financial resources or health insurance for coverage of that amount or over, Shih said.
Furthermore, all foreign nationals wishing to visit Taiwan for medical purposes will have to first present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight, and on arrival in Taiwan they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to the CECC. They will be allowed to seek medical treatment, as planned, once they test negative again after the quarantine period and will be expected to bear all the costs, the CECC said. If the patient requires immediate medical attention on arrival, he or she will be admitted to hospital, tested immediately, and assigned to either a single room or a negative pressure isolation room, Shih said. Applications for entry to Taiwan for medical purposes can be submitted to Taiwan embassies or representative offices overseas, including the Taipei Economic and Cultural offices in Hong Kong and Macau, according to the CECC.
Various kinds of government-issued stimulus vouchers were released, which are aimed at boosting the local economy weakened by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The vouchers can be used starting July 15 until Dec. 31.
Foreign residents of Taiwan, including hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Southeast Asia, are not eligible to receive the vouchers unless they have a Taiwanese spouse, and the government has provided no clear explanation as to why they have been left out of this program.
There are also agriculture and culture stimulus vouchers issued by the government to boost these two sectors which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 3.35 million agriculture vouchers, each with a face value of NT$250, are being provided to Taiwanese nationals and their foreign spouses. The vouchers will be valid at 2,000 agricultural service or product providers.
The vouchers will be valid within 60 days after they are collected.
Registration for the culture vouchers, each with a face value of NT$600, will continue through July 20, and the winners will also be decided by a lucky draw.
The vouchers could be used from noon, July 22 to Dec. 31, the ministry said.
More than 80,000 migrant workers in Taiwan have been able to stay at their current jobs or obtain other employment in the country as of June this year thanks to government efforts to reduce human flow amid COVID-19.
The Ministry of Labor's Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has moved to reduce cross-border movement, suspend the introduction of foreign labor, and require employers to bolster disease management since the coronavirus outbreak. The measures are in line with the Central Epidemic Command Center in March raising its risk assessment of the coronavirus levels in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand — nations which are major sources of foreign workers for Taiwan.
A total of 82,324 migrant workers have had their contracts extended or been reassigned to other jobs as of June. The cases were recorded after the government introduced incentives encouraging employers to renew contracts for existing workers or recruit others who were already in Taiwan.
By the end of June, 726 employers had applied for a short-term permit — on a three or six months basis — to hire foreign nationals stranded in Taiwan due to the halting of international flights. In addition, 1,685 individuals have applied for three-month employment extensions。
According to the MOL, employers who wish to import industrial workers have been required to provide certification of their quarantine arrangements since March 27. Those interested can call the MOL at 02-8995-6000 or visit the WDA website for more information on Taiwan's epidemic prevention measures in this area.
Taiwan approved a TWD60 billion (US$2 billion) package, which includes:
- Loans for small businesses
- Subsidies for hard-hit tour agencies
- Tax cuts for tour bus drivers
- Food vouchers in night markets
Migrant workers who left Taiwan during the COVID will not be allowed in until the end of the outbreak, according to the Ministry of Labor.. Employers are recommended to: (a) apply for their migrant workers’ re-entry; (b) renew contracts with their existing employees.
The National Immigration Agency also encouraged overstayers (undocumented migrants) to turn themselves in. Under the Expanded Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program, effective April 1 to June 30, 2020, overstayers who turn themselves in are entitled to no detention, no entry ban and a minimum amount of fine.
Taiwan is home to 700,000 migrant workers, many of whom work as caregivers, domestic workers, fishermen, and factory workers.