Taiwan bans travelers from Wuhan amid deadly virus outbreak in China

Kyodo News

Posted at Jan 22 2020 10:41 PM

Taiwan authorities on Wednesday banned all travelers to the island from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where a new and deadly coronavirus has been discovered.

The Mainland Affairs Council, which is in charge of relations with China, said the ban covers both individual and group travelers from Wuhan, and applies to both business and vacation travel.

Applicants from Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, will face stricter scrutiny, it said in an announcement in the evening, adding that Chinese travelers who have obtained permission to visit are advised to postpone.

The blanket ban comes a day after Taiwan health authorities confirmed the first local case of the pneumonia-like virus, which has so far killed nine people and infected over 400 others in mainland China.

Earlier in the day, President Tsai Ing-wen announced a ban on tour groups from Wuhan.

Speaking at an emergency press conference at the presidential office, Tsai said the ban will expand to other areas of China should the spread of the coronavirus, which can be transmitted between humans, pick up pace.

She added that the transportation ministry has asked local travel agents to stop organizing group tours of Taiwanese to Wuhan.

Also Wednesday, Taiwan's tourism bureau said there are currently two groups of Chinese tourists visiting from Wuhan, totaling 24 people. A total of 178 people in 10 tour groups from the city had earlier been scheduled to arrive soon.

Tsai urged China to properly disclose information about the deadly outbreak as a responsible member of the international community and fully share information with Taiwan.

The president also called on the World Health Organization to refrain from excluding Taiwan from the network of global public health due to political factors.

Taiwan is a part of the international community, Tsai said, and is on the front line of preventing contagious diseases originating in China.

China has barred Taiwan from international bodies such as the WHO because it sees the self-ruled island as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

The travel advisory for Wuhan was raised from yellow to orange on Tuesday, the second highest out of a four-color alert system, meaning Taiwanese citizens are urged to avoid unnecessary travel to the city and those who need to visit there should exercise extreme caution.

The island's first case is a Taiwanese woman in her 50s who returned Monday from Wuhan, where she works. She was quarantined immediately upon arrival at Taoyuan International Airport outside Taipei and is now undergoing treatment in a hospital isolation ward.

Despite being barred from the WHO, the CDC reported the positive test results to the global health body and to China, in line with international regulations.