Nearly 28% of the 524 passenger arrivals from mainland China at Taiwan’s top international airport on Sunday tested positive for Covid, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center, or CECC.
Taiwan starting on Jan. 1 is requiring travelers from the mainland to take a saliva-based test when arriving, the Central News Agency reported. The move follows a Covid wave on the mainland after authorities last month eased “zero-Covid” rules that had spurred public protests, disrupted global supply chains, and hurt economic growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.
The U.S., Italy, France and India are among the countries that have ordered pre-boarding Covid tests for China visitors. Taiwan’s policy applies to arrivals from four cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xiamen — with direct flights to Taoyuan International Airport, CNA said. It also applies to citizens arriving in Taiwan’s outlying Kinmen and Matsu islands from Xiamen, the agency said.
On Sunday – New Year’s Day, 146 of 524 arriving travelers from the mainland at Taoyuan tested positive for Covid— a 27.8% positivity rate, the agency said today, citing the CECC.
CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang he hoped the policy would deter mainland travelers from boarding a flight if they have Covid symptoms, according to CNA. Individuals that test positive will be required to undergo a five-day period of isolation if they have mild or no symptoms, the agency said. (See report here.)
China announced this week it would resume approval of Chinese citizens’ applications for ordinary passports for tourist travel starting Jan. 8, suggesting an increase in the number of mainlanders traveling abroad. China also said it will end its quarantine requirement for international arrivals in the country on Jan. 8. (See earlier post here.)
Whereas China’s eased Covid rules are stirring concern among global health officials, shares in Trip.com, China’s biggest online travel agency, rose 2.8% to close at their highest level in a year and a half at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday on expectations that eased restrictions will lead to more travel. Shanghai-based airline China Eastern shares have gained 11% in Hong Kong and Guangzhou-headquartered carrier China Southern has risen by the same amount in Nasdaq trade in the past month.
Underscoring the likely mixed impact of China’s moves, more than one million individuals could reportedly die from Covid illness in the country though 2023 following the recent lifting of stringent pandemic-related restrictions, the U.S.-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has projected. (See earlier post here.)
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