《TAIPEI TIMES》 UK list shows Taiwan is ‘trustworthy’
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday arrives at National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health where he was delivering a lecture to students on handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
‘TRAVEL CORRIDORS’: Chen Shih-chung thanked the UK for recognizing Taiwan’s control over COVID-19, adding that flights to Vietnam could soon restart as well
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
England on Friday placed Taiwan on a list of countries and territories from which visitors would not be placed under quarantine, implying that Taiwan is trustworthy, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung （陳時中） said yesterday.
The British government issued a COVID-19 “Travel Corridors” exemption list, in which visitors from 59 countries and territories to England would be exempt from its quarantine rules starting on Friday next week.
Visitors from these locations would not be required to self-isolate upon arriving in England unless they visited any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days.
For now, the exemptions only apply to England. Visitors to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still subject to the UK’s 14-day self-isolation rule and face penalties if they do not comply.
Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center （CECC）, said that the UK is a great power with high technological expertise, so it has a certain standard for border controls.
“I believe the UK looked at various scientific data and considered Taiwan a trustworthy country with low infection risk,” he said. “We, of course, welcome its opening up and thank the UK for noticing Taiwan’s control over its disease situation.”
However, the CECC still urges people to avoid unnecessary international travel, he said.
If they must travel for business, science, academic research, diplomacy or other important reasons, they should be mindful of their health, Chen said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the UK’s decision, saying the inclusion of Taiwan on the list marks London’s affirmation of Taiwan’s achievement in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the UK is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner in Europe, the reopening of its borders to Taiwanese visitors would help bilateral trade and investment flourish, the ministry added.
Reporters also asked Chen about Vietnamese media reports that Hanoi was considering including Taiwan in a list of priority destinations with which to restart flights before the end of this month.
“We have been negotiating with Vietnam on this issue, and as the COVID-19 outbreak has been controlled very well in Vietnam, it is also listed as a low infection risk country by us,” Chen said. “I believe reciprocal exchanges between the two countries would be beneficial to the economies of both sides.”
Asked if there is a planned date to restart flights between the two countries, Chen said a plan is almost ready, adding that the disease situation in both countries is similar and the two sides trust each other.
However, the Vietnamese government needs to consider how it would modify its border control regulations, as it currently does not even allow Vietnamese to return home, so, it might face a large number of people returning home once flights restart, he said.
While Taiwan has reported two imported cases of COVID-19 in the past week, the nations would not tighten border control regulations just because of a few sporadic cases, and the 14-day mandatory quarantine order is still the main prevention measure against imported cases, Chen said.
The CECC would continue to adjust its list of low and low-medium infection risk countries, he said.
It would also try to negotiate reciprocal interactions with countries or areas that the government deems important economic or trade partners, but these plans are relatively experimental at this stage, he said.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan