Health experts yesterday called for all people who enter or leave Taiwan to be tested for COVID-19, following a model that Iceland has implemented to boost its economy.
Iceland has become a model of coronavirus prevention efforts after going from a high rate of infection in March to having only a handful of new cases now, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) told a news briefing in Taipei.
Since June 15, people arriving in Iceland have been able to choose between a COVID-19 test and isolation for two weeks, Chan said.
In the first two weeks of the program, tests were given free of charge, but starting tomorrow, people arriving would need to pay about 15,000 Icelandic krona (US$108.80) for a single test, the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration said in a statement on June 9.
Those who test positive are asked to undergo further tests to determine whether they have an active infection, and those with an active infection are isolated, the agency said.
The model is an example to follow, Chan said, adding that Taiwan can use the idea to formulate its own policies regarding inbound and outbound travelers.
“I think testing all those who enter Taiwan is already unavoidable. It is something the country must do and we can use the results to adjust the standard 14-day quarantine,” Chan said.
Carrying out testing on incoming passengers would help business travel and facilitate the movement of professionals with technical skills who travel a lot, he said.
Taiwan requires all people arriving from overseas — whether Taiwanese or foreign national — to isolate for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Most foreign nationals are banned from entering Taiwan, except for Alien Resident Certificate holders or people who live in Taiwan for diplomatic or business purposes.
Taiwan on June 22 eased its quarantine restrictions for business travelers, allowing people from 15 countries and territories classified as “low risk” and “low-to-moderate risk” to remain in isolation for only five or seven days respectively after arriving.
Chan and college vice dean Chen Hsiu-hsi (陳秀熙) advocated that tests be done on outbound as well as inbound travelers to help identify asymptomatic cases.
Chen cited the case of a Japanese student in her 20s who had been studying at a university in southern Taiwan since February and tested positive for COVID-19 when she arrived in Japan on June 20.
“If we had our own testing at the border, then we would be have known whether she was infected in Taiwan or if there was a problem with her test in Japan,” Chen said.
Of the 123 people she came in contact with in Taiwan who were tested for COVID-19, 109 of the tests came back negative on Thursday and the other 14 came back negative on Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center said last week.
Taiwan has recorded 447 COVID-19 cases, of which it has classified 356 as imported, 55 as locally acquired and 36 as a cluster infection onboard the Panshih (磐石) naval ship.
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