Taiwan loosens COVID-19 control measures on international cruises

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Taiwan has further loosened its COVID-19 control protocols on international cruises in an attempt to boost tourism, the Maritime and Port Bureau announced Saturday.

Under the new rules, effective immediately, Taiwan no longer requires inbound passengers to present a negative rapid COVID-19 test taken on the day of arrival in Taiwan or the previous day, the bureau said in a statement.

Instead, passengers only need to conduct the test if they display symptoms, and undergo quarantine onboard if the result is positive, according to the bureau.

For outbound passengers undergoing a self-initiated epidemic prevention program, such as those who entered Taiwan within seven days before they board the cruise liner, they still need to present a 48-hour negative rapid COVID-19 test when boarding, it said.

But the group does not need to take further rapid tests onboard every two day as was previously required, the bureau said, adding that those tests are only needed when passengers show symptoms.

Meanwhile, the new rules allow crew members working on cruise ships based in Taiwan who are undergoing a self-initiated epidemic prevention program to board if they can present a negative rapid COVID-19 test.

The easing up of COVID-19 controls came after Taiwan lifted a ban on international cruises last October.

Taiwan is looking forward to a swift resumption of international cruise services, which would help the industry resume the growth it was aiming for before the pandemic, the bureau said at the time.

The ban was introduced on Feb. 6, 2020, after a Taiwanese woman traveling on the Diamond Princess cruise liner was confirmed to be one of 10 passengers infected with COVID-19 — the second wave of infections on the ship when it arrived in Japan on a round-trip cruise that included a 10-hour stop in Taiwan’s Keelung Port on Jan. 31.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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