Coronavirus: Taiwan restricts Hong Kong and Macau travellers amid outbreak crisis

Staff from Taiwan's Centre for Disease Control use thermal scanners to screen passengers arriving on a flight from Wuhan.

Taiwan will impose restrictions on Hong Kong and Macau citizens who plan to visit the island as the coronavirus outbreak forces authorities to raise a travel alert for both cities to Level 2, according to the island's Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

Starting on Friday, people from Hong Kong and Macau will need to be under home or hotel quarantine for 14 days after they land on the self-governed island, CDC said in a late-night statement on Wednesday.

"Several community-transmitted cases with unknown origin have occurred in Hong Kong, indicating the possibility of an invisible chain of infection," it said. "On the other hand, a worker in the gambling industry of Macau has been diagnosed with coronavirus infection, indicating a second wave of infection in Macau," CDC said.

It said that owing to the close social and commercial exchanges between Hong Kong, Macau and China, the island had decided to raise the travel alert level for Hong Kong and Macau to Level 2.

CDC also urged locals to be cautious and reinforce prevention measures if they planned to visit Hong Kong and Macau, where 21 and 10 confirmed cases, respectively, were reported.

For Hong Kong and Macau people planning to visit, CDC Deputy Director Chuang Jen-hsiang said they must self-quarantine either at home or a hotel for 14 days.

During this period they must not go out or walk around, and must wear masks.

Chuang did not give details on how these visitors should conduct self-quarantine; but following the standard practice for locals, they would be given a phone allowing authorities to monitor their movements.

Authorities would also call the visitors every day to check and record their health conditions.

Locals who fail to follow these rules face fines of up to NT$150,000 (S$7000).

Earlier on Wednesday, Taiwan, which has 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus, said it would ban mainland Chinese nationals from entering the island starting on Thursday.

Foreigners who have visited or have been living on the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau over the past 14 days will be barred from entering the island beginning on Friday.

For the latest updates on the Wuhan virus, visit here.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.