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East Asia Environment Government News Taiwan

Taiwan Plans to Lift Public Transport Mask Mandate on April 17

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) Passengers taking public transportation in Taiwan will no longer be required to wear a face mask starting on April 17, if the COVID-19 situation remains stable, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on Friday.

The lifting of the face mask requirement, however, will hinge on whether the recent long holiday affects the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan, said CECC chief Victor Wang (王必勝) at a press briefing held in Taipei.

The removal of the mask requirement will also apply to school buses and kindergarten vehicles, but the CECC still advised the public to wear a mask, Wang added.

The long holiday Wang mentioned was a five-day holiday for Children’s Day and Tomb Sweeping Festival, which began on April 1.

The three long holidays in January and February, which usually see more people travel, have not affected the CECC’s announced removal of some COVID-19 restrictions.

Even after the lifting of the face mask mandate on public transportation, face masks will still be required on ambulances, and medical and care facilities, including pharmacies, according to the CECC’s statement released that day.

The mask requirement on public transport, including train stations and airports, was announced by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on March 31, 2020 and went into effect from the following day, April 1, 2020.

The announcement was made after Taiwan’s two long-haul carriers, China Airlines and EVA Air, began requiring passengers to wear a face mask during their flights on March 21 that year.

The requirement later expanded in May 2021, when Taiwan experienced the first wave of COVID-19 infections. The government required everyone to wear a face mask outside their home, before the CECC began phasing out the measure in early 2022, despite another two waves of more serious outbreaks.

Also on Friday, the CECC announced the quarantine requirement for patients who develop serious infections and are treated in hospitals will be lifted after the doctor decided that a patient has improved and is ready to return home.

If the patients still test positive for COVID-19, they should follow the “Self-initiated Prevention” protocol, including wearing a face mask outside their home, until they test negative.

The revised quarantine rules, said CECC spokesperson Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) at the press briefing, are meant to help hospitals to have more medical resources previously reserved for COVID-19, as the CECC observed further decline of the spread of the disease.

According to Lo, the average daily number of new moderate and serious cases that require hospital treatment dropped to 85 during the seven-day period ending April 7, from 96 during the seven-day period ending on March 30.

The average daily number of deaths recorded during the two seven-day periods dropped to 15 on average, from 25, he said.

Another new measure introduced was to expand access to preventative monoclonal antibody medication Evusheld to malignant tumor patients requiring intensive treatments and holders of government-issued “catastrophic illness card” if they are organ transplant patients or patients with systemic autoimmune syndrome, the CECC said.

Source : FocusTaiwan