A military reservist vaccinated with Medigen’s COVID-19 vaccine, who was not allowed to board a United Airlines transit flight from Guam to Palau on Sunday, has returned to Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
After local media reported the incident on Tuesday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, told a news briefing that day that the reservist might not have paid enough attention to the US territory’s quarantine regulations.
At a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday, lawmakers asked Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to clarify the issue, as they were reviewing the ministry’s budget plans for next year.
Photo courtesy of the Guam Visitors Bureau
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) asked why the ministry did not check the rules in advance, as the reservist’s travel expenses were paid by the government.
It is ridiculous that a reservist dispatched by the government — not an ordinary traveler — was rejected by a US airline, he said, adding that Chen’s remarks were irresponsible.
About 770,000 people in Taiwan have received Medigen’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the government should clarify which countries they can visit, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said the ministry should improve its knowledge of the quarantine regulations of different governments and airlines, and regularly update its information for the public.
The reservist, surnamed Liao (廖), was one of four reservists traveling to serve in a technical mission to Palau, which was arranged by the ministry’s International Cooperation and Development Fund, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.
As flights to Palau are not always available due to COVID-19, the four were to take an EVA Airways flight to Tokyo on Sunday, and then take a United Airlines flight to Guam before transiting to Palau, she said.
The other three servicemen have reached Palau, Ou said.
Having returned to Taiwan, he is staying in a quarantine hotel, she said, adding that the ministry would make other arrangements so he can serve in Palau.
Only four countries — Belize, Indonesia, New Zealand and Palau — accept visitors vaccinated with Medgien’s COVID-19 vaccine.
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