The Taiwanese government announced on Friday, February 7, that most flights to mainland China will be suspended from Monday, February 10, through Wednesday, April 29, in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, and Chengdu will not be affected. The number of flights from Taiwan to the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong will also be reduced.
On Thursday, February 6, Taiwan's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) announced the following restrictions on travel to Taiwan in efforts to contain the outbreak:
1. In view of the fact that the Taiwanese government has designated all areas of China, including Hong Kong and Macao, as being severely affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak (areas of level 2 or higher), foreign nationals who have visited or resided anywhere in China, including Hong Kong and Macao, in the previous 14 days will be temporarily prohibited from entering Taiwan effective Friday, February 7. Entry visa applications by such foreign nationals, including those submitted for special reasons, will not be accepted by Taiwan's overseas missions while this temporary measure is in effect.
2. Foreign nationals possessing a valid Taiwan Resident Certificate who have visited or resided in China, including Hong Kong and Macao, in the previous 14 days shall be permitted entry but shall self-isolate in their home and carefully monitor their health for a period of 14 days after returning to Taiwan.
The Taiwan Center for Disease Control has also announced that the entry of Chinese residents will be suspended effective Friday, regardless of how recently they were in China.
The government has not stated how long travel restrictions will be in effect for. These restrictions may change as the situation evolves.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 25 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals traveling to Taiwan are advised to keep abreast of the situation, respect government regulations, and contact their nearest embassy for further details. For information on documents required for special visas and official travel information, visit BOCA's website.
Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands and wear a face mask
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease
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