TAIPEI: Taiwan will ban entry to the island for most foreigners as part of coronavirus prevention measures, excluding foreign resident permit holders and diplomats, the government said on Wednesday (Mar 18), as it battles a rise in imported cases.
Taiwan has won plaudits from health experts for its efforts to effectively control the spread of the virus, but it is now reporting daily rises in cases from people returning to the island from other countries, especially Europe.
The government has already asked Taiwanese not to travel abroad unless necessary, and has now stepped up its controls to stop from midnight (1600 GMT) the entry of most foreigners.
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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, announcing the new rules, said that all people entering Taiwan will also be put into home quarantine for 14 days.
He said the number of imported cases have "increased sharply". Taiwan has reported 77 cases to date, of which all the most recent new cases from the last two days have been imported.
The government did not say when the new measures might end.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, speaking at the same news conference, said Taiwan will also step cooperation with the United States, where the virus is now spreading fast, including research and production of vaccines.
Wu said the United States will provide Taiwan materials for 300,000 protective suits, while Taiwan will export a weekly supply of 100,000 masks to the United States when the island has enough supply for itself.
"This symbolises the close relationship between Taiwan and the United States, and are for the joint efforts to combat the disease. We hope to join hands to contribute to international society," Wu said.
Taiwan in late January banned the export of face masks, and has since boosted its weekly production to 11 million.
Health Minister Chen said the government is aiming to raise that number to 15 million in coming days.