A humanitarian charter flight, carrying dozens of people who had either been stranded on Guam and Saipan amid border closures or were in need of medical treatment, arrived in Taiwan at 5:25pm yesterday.
The flight, operated by China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport with 47 passengers and 13 crew aboard.
Five of the passengers had applied to local hospitals for treatment of tumors, heart arrhythmia or other conditions, and were approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, while four more are family members, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the spokesman for the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a noontime news conference in Taipei.
Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times
However, all the passengers were subject to the normal entry restrictions and 14-day home quarantine requirement, unless they experienced COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of their departure or were suffering symptoms upon arrival, in which case they would be tested and taken to centralized quarantine facilities, Chuang said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 54 people had registered for the flight, but only 35 Taiwanese and 12 foreign nationals and were aboard the plane, which departed following a ceremony at Guam International Airport attended by Guam Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero and officials from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hagatna.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Guam participating in global cooperation and establishing friendly relationships with neighboring countries, Guerrero said, adding that the US territory’s relationship with TECO is very precious.
Photo courtesy of Guam International Airport via CNA
The US Department of State’s announcement that long-standing restrictions on contacts between US officials and their counterparts in Taiwan would be ended would help Guam and Taiwan establish a peaceful and democratic partnership, and discuss economic and political agreements, she said.
Meanwhile, the CECC reported six new imported cases of COVID-19, including members of an Egyptian family related to case No. 825 announced on Saturday.
The new cases are two pre-teens, a boy and a girl, and a woman in her 30s, Chuang said, adding that the family arrived on Tuesday last week, had provided negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests prior to boarding their flight and had been put under home isolation after case No. 825 tested positive.
The three began experiencing symptoms on Thursday, and were given PCR tests, which came back positive yesterday, and the nine people who sat close to them on their flight have been put under home isolation, he said.
The fourth new case is a Filipino migrant worker in her 40s who arrived on Dec. 20 last year and tested negative on Jan. 2 upon ending quarantine, but tested positive in a paid test on Friday, he said.
The fifth is an Indonesian fisher in his 20s who arrived on Dec. 25 and tested negative on Thursday upon ending quarantine, but tested positive in a paid test taken on Saturday, Chuang said.
The sixth is a Taiwanese man in his 30s who returned from visiting family in the US on Sunday last week, developed a fever the following day, and lost his sense of smell and taste on Friday, Chuang said.
The man’s test result came out positive yesterday, so five passengers who sat close to him on his flight have been placed under home isolation, he added.
Of the 834 confirmed cases in Taiwan, 101 people remain in hospital, he said, adding that 947 returning residents have applied to stay in centralized quarantine facilities since applications for 1,500 rooms were opened on Friday evening.
Additional reporting by CNA
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