The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) raised its travel notice for Italy to Level 2 on Tuesday, February 25, due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) advising individuals to take enhanced precautions when visiting the country. A similar Level 2 travel notice is in place for Singapore and Japan since Monday, February 24. Level 1 travel notices remain in place for Thailand and Iran since Monday. The CECC issued a Level 3 travel notice for South Korea on Monday, advising the public to avoid all non-essential travel to the country. From Tuesday, February 25, foreign nationals traveling to Taiwan from South Korea must undergo a 14-day home quarantine; Taiwanese nationals returning to the territory from South Korea must similar undergo a 14-day home quarantine starting from Thursday, February 27. The CECC issued a similar advisory on Monday for travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macao to carry out a 14-day home quarantine upon arrival to Taiwan. Those in violation of home quarantine orders may be fined. The Taiwanese airline, EVA Air, consequently reissued several travel waivers on Tuesday for flights to or from the aforementioned countries and territories. More information on affected flights can be found on the EVA Air website here. Further flight disruptions, including flight suspensions, are anticipated in the coming days and weeks.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Health confirmed 31 cases of COVID-19 across the territory as of Tuesday. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 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 more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
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.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.