Taipei, March 17 (CNA) People in Taiwan who are conducting self-health management after quarantine or home isolation are now required to have the two mandatory COVID-19 tests earlier, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday.
The decision to change the test period was made in light of the shorter incubation time of the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, the CECC said.
Starting Thursday, the CECC said, a COVID-19 rapid antigen self-test will be mandatory on the second and fourth day of the seven-day self-health management period that follows quarantine or home isolation.
Previously, people who had completed quarantine or home isolation were required to do the first rapid COVID-19 home test on the third day of their self-health management period, and then take the second test on either the sixth or seventh day.
According to the CECC, however, the tests are now required earlier, considering that the incubation period of Omicron is three to five days, which is much shorter than that of any other variant of the COVID-19 virus.
On March 7, the mandatory quarantine period for arriving travelers and close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan was shortened, from 14 days to 10.
In addition, non-resident business travelers were again allowed to enter Taiwan, once they applied for and obtained an entry permit, in line with CECC directives issued last month.
Prior to that, all foreign nationals without residency, with few exceptions, had been barred from entering Taiwan since May 2021, as part of the country’s COVID-19 prevention measures.
Since the entry restrictions were eased on March 7, the number of foreign business arrivals has increased from a weekly average of 770 to 1,882 over the past week, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that people who come into close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should take a rapid rest as soon as possible, given that Taiwan has eased its border restrictions and Omicron infections are prevalent in other countries.
An early rapid test can help reduce the chances of transmission, CDC physician Chen Wan-ching (陳婉青) said, adding that any known contact with a COVID-19 patient should be reported immediately to health authorities.
He also advised that people who test positive should record the date of the test and the onset of their COVID-19 symptoms, if they have any.