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May 02, 2003, No. 007

  • Date:2003-05-02

Press Release of the Offshore Control Division of the Executive Yuan's SARS Epidemic Management Committee

In its fifth meeting on May 2 (Tue), the Offshore Control Division of the Executive Yuan's Epidemic Management Committee decided to put Mongolia as an area on Taiwan's specific quarantine list, meaning that all control measures currently used on travelers from areas with a concentration of SARS cases will now also apply to travelers from Mongolia. In addition, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and related departments announced today that airlines and other relevant agencies are required to provide in advance the data of travelers on flights bound for Taiwan from Hong Kong, Macao or Singapore. Airlines are also required to demand passengers on these routes that they wear masks during the entire flight. This regulation comes into force on May 3.

To ensure efficient implementation of previously made resolutions, the Offshore Control Division has in today's session featured a video conference with directors and staff of the CKS International Airport and the Kaohsiung International Airport. As a result of that conference, it was decided that airlines and related agencies will be required to inform passenger on flights from Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore of related regulations in advance, and that airlines must require their passengers to put on masks after entering the airport lounge, and to wear them for the duration of the entire flight. Airlines are also responsible for providing passengers with masks to wear. Those passengers who refuse to wear a mask must not be allowed to board the plane. On flights to and from Toronto, Canada, airlines should advise their passengers to wear masks for their own safety.

Passengers returning to Taiwan on the “Mini-Three-Links” route via Kinmen will be served a Compulsory Quarantine Notice for SARS Epidemic Prevention upon arrival at Shuitou Pier, and be required to put on masks for the flight to Taiwan. Passengers traveling on the flights from Taiwan to Kinmen or Matsu will receive the same treatment as those on the Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore routes, i.e. they will be required to put on their masks before boarding the plane, and have to wear them for the entire flight.

In view of the WHO's decision on May 1 to declare Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia, an area with a concentration of SARS cases, it was decided to put Mongolia (in its entirety) as an area on Taiwan's specific quarantine list, meaning that all control measures for passengers from areas with a concentration of SARS cases will now apply for Mongolia.

The Center for Disease Control's airport offices are required to input into their computers the data of all passengers arriving from areas with a concentration of SARS cases to facilitate the distribution of these data to the local health authorities. When the data are disseminated, each passenger's address as recorded on his Compulsory Quarantine Notice for SARS Epidemic Prevention will serve to determine the competent local health bureau responsible for this specific case. After receiving the list of quarantined persons from the Center for Disease Control, the local health bureaus should double-check the data immediately and forward them to the competent bureau of civil affairs and bureau of social affairs. After receiving the list, the bureau of civil affairs then requests the magistrate/chief administrator of the competent rural township/urban township/county municipalities/district to assign special staff to be in charge of supervision matters regarding those who are under home quarantine. Special staff is under obligation to make sure that the quarantined persons report within 24 hours to their local (rural township/urban township/county municipalities/district) health office, or village/borough warden, or to their workplace administrator, as recorded in the relevant SARS Prevention Questionnaires. If a quarantined person fails to do so, special staff must report this to the competent special municipality/county/city bureau of health for further management.

Another point on the agenda were compulsory quarantine facilities. For North Taiwan, the Hungwu Military Camp is the compulsory quarantine facility of choice, but during the transition period, the CKS International Airport Transit Hotel can also be considered. Currently, a total of 510 quarantine berths have been set up at the CKS International Airport Transit Hotel, in which 75 quarantined persons are currently there. Airport Police have appointed six officers to be in charge of monitoring all quarantined persons, while the competent health office has also assigned staff to supervise the SARS prevention.

Another issue under discussion in today's session was whether to allow customs officers in charge of checking travel documents to add a special remark in the passports of all passengers who were served Compulsory Quarantine Notices for SARS Epidemic Prevention. Officers at baggage checkpoints would then receive these passengers, and deliver them into the care of special staff in charge of taking them to their quarantine locations on specially arranged airport buses. This would greatly enhance the perfection of the SARS prevention measures in a specific program . The feasibility of this suggested procedure is currently being assessed by the administrations of the CKS International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport.

Finally, it is from today that the title of the “SARS Epidemic Disaster Response Committee of the Executive Yuan” was officially changed into “SARS Epidemic Management Committee of the Executive Yuan.” The May 2 session focussed on the more efficient implementation of prevention and quarantine measures, as well as on reviewing and improving the procedures of responsible matters relevant to related agencies and the division of authorities and responsibilities.