TAIPEI, Jan 19 — Covid-19 airport testing rules requiring passengers arriving in Taiwan on long-haul flights to wait for the result of their Covid-19 PCR tests at the airport will be expanded to short-haul arrivals from India and eight South-east Asian countries starting Thursday, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung announced today.

According to Central news agency (CNA), from Thursday, all passengers arriving in Taiwan on short-haul flights from India, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore will have to wait at the airport for their on-arrival Covid-19 test results before completing clearance procedures.

If their test comes back negative, they will be permitted to leave for a government quarantine facility or quarantine hotel, while a positive result means they will be immediately sent to a hospital, or an enhanced quarantine facility based on their symptoms, Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC), said at the daily CECC press briefing.

People who test positive but have mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic will be taken to a government-run centre or placed in an enhanced quarantine hotel, while those with more serious symptoms will be sent to a medical facility, Chen had said previously.

The widening of the testing rules to flights from the nine countries means an additional 10-plus flights will be subject to the airport testing rules on Thursday, according to Chen.

The CECC had announced the new testing rules in response to a surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide and a huge influx of passengers from overseas coming for the Lunar New Year holiday from January 29 to February 6, it reported.

Since Taiwan began implementing the tightened testing measures for long-haul passengers on January 11, 3,934 inbound travellers have been required to take a government-funded rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Covid-19 upon arrival, with 247 having tested positive so far, according to Chen.

Currently, the rules apply to passengers arriving on long-haul flights from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia, according to the CECC. — Bernama