Taiwan urges Philippines to lift ban on its citizens over coronavirus fears

Marje Pelayo   •   February 12, 2020   •   597

Taiwan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Joanne Ou

TAIWAN (Reuters) – Taiwan urged the Philippines on Tuesday (February 11) to lift a travel ban on Taiwanese imposed after Manila included the island as part of restrictions on people coming from China to control the spread of the coronavirus.

After Italy banned Taiwan flights earlier this month, the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration late on Monday (February 10) said a travel ban for Taiwanese would take effect immediately and follow the same procedures as in the previously announced restriction that covered China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

More than 115,000 Filipinos live and work in Taiwan, mainly in factories and as household helpers. Taiwan and the Philippines also have close economic and cultural ties, though no formal diplomatic relations as the Philippines, like most countries, only recognizes the government in Beijing and not in Taipei.

Taiwan is entirely separately governed from China, but Beijing claims the island as its own and the World Health Organisation (WHO) includes Taiwan’s own small number of virus cases under China’s. 

Taiwan has complained this WHO listing has misled other countries into believing the island poses the same health risk as China and to imposing the same travel and flight bans as China faces. Taiwan has only 18 cases, compared to over 42,000 for China.

Military tensions have also recently spiked between China and the island since Sunday when Taiwan F-16s shadowed Chinese fighters and bombers which flew around the island.

On Monday, Taiwan’s air force scrambled after Chinese jets briefly crossed an unofficial middle line in the Taiwan Strait, which both sides’ forces generally stay on their respective sides. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory, to be taken by force if needed.

(Production: Fabian Hamacher)

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Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

Taiwan reports 4 of 5 new COVID-19 cases came from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   July 29, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported on Tuesday (July 28) that it has recorded five new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among travelers who arrived in the country on Sunday (July 26).

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan to 467 since the start of the pandemic early this year. 

Out of 467 positive cases, 21 are imported so far.

Of the five new cases, all took the same flight on July 26, four were from the Philippines and one returned from Hong Kong, according to CECC.

The CECC identified the patients as follows:

  • Male (over 50y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in March. He returned to Taiwan on July 26 with a slightly elevated temperature at the airport. After the test, he was confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in January. He noticed abnormality in his sense of smell and taste and sought medical attention in the Philippines on June 16. He took a COVID-19 test the same day, but he tested negative.  He returned to Taiwan on July 26 where he voluntarily reported his previous symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing. His test yielded positive results and was confirmed on July 28.
  • Male/Female (both over 70y/o)
    • A couple in their 70s who traveled to the Philippines to visit their relatives in January. The two cases returned to Taiwan on July 26. The male patient was asymptomatic while the female patient reported her symptoms to airport quarantine officers before boarding and upon entry to Taiwan. After COVID-19 testing was undertaken, they were taken to a quarantine facility. They were confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o) 
    • He traveled to Hong Kong for work in January and returned to Taiwan on July 26. He voluntarily reported his symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing and he was confirmed positive on July 28. 

All five cases are currently in isolation in a hospital for medical treatment.

Taiwan extends trial visa-free entry for Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Taiwan’s national flags in Taipei, REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Taiwan has extended its trial visa-free entry for nationals of Brunei, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand to further promote its New Southbound Policy.

In a meeting with other related agencies, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) decided to extend the visa-free entry for one year starting August 1 until July 31, 2021.

Likewise, the Project for Simplifying Visa Regulations for High-end Group Tourists from Southeast Asian Countries will continue for another year, lasting until December 31, 2021. 

The said adjustments to visa measures are based on previously existing policies, the MOFA stressed and “do not take precedence” over temporary border control measures put in place in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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