Foreign Ministry raises travel advisory for Seoul
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is raising its travel advisory to Seoul to yellow, second out of its four-level alert system, following the rapid spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) there.
Other areas will maintain the gray level travel alert, the ministry said.
In view of the close exchanges between Taiwan and South Korea and South Korea’s closing of 214 schools on June 3 amid the MERS scare, the ministry raised its alert level for safety concerns.
The yellow level serves to remind people to exercise caution and review whether to travel there. In particular, they should refrain from visiting medical institutions except for necessary medical care.
Under the four-tier travel advisory system, the lowest alert level is gray, followed by yellow, then orange, and finally red. A red alert is the highest warning level, which advises people to refrain from traveling to the affected region.
South Korea has reported two deaths and 30 confirmed MERS cases since the first reported case last month.
Tourists to Korea Decline
Meanwhile, two major travel agencies reported that the num- ber of people traveling to South Korea declined, but it was not a massive dropoff.
Lion Travel ( ) said some individuals have delayed their travel to South Korea, but their group tours have been operating normally.
The company said that it would work with the MOFA’s policy.
Phoenix Tours ( ) said that the MOFA has yet to raise its travel advisory alert to “orange” level, which calls for the avoidance of unnecessary travel, and the scheduled tours have been running as usual.
Taiwan on Alert as MERS Spreads in South Korea
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, ) said Wednesday that it is keeping close tabs on the MERS-CoV) scare in South Korea and will adjust its contingency measures as necessary.
“The CDC is following the latest developments and will take contingency measures based on the situation,” CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw ( ) said as Taiwan stepped up preparations in case the virus spreads to Taiwan.
A drill was held at the Hsinwu branch of Taoyuan Hospital on Wednesday to simulate moving MERS patients from the first floor to negative pressure wards on the hospital’s fourth floor.
The drill was aimed at ensuring the timely admittance of patients to a hospital in case of a MERS outbreak and preventing in-hospital infections, Chou said.
Health Minister Chiang Beenhuang ( ) said Taiwan remains on guard against MERS and has stepped up border controls and increased inventories of surgical masks and other necessary items.
The ministry was to hold a news conference later Wednesday that will include a doctor who recently traveled to South Korea to see what measures Seoul has taken as it grapples with the lethal virus.
Defense Minister Kao Kuangchi ( ) , meanwhile, has asked related agencies to meet to discuss the possible development of the virus and contingency measures, including preparations of negative pressure beds, N95 masks and protective garments at military hospitals.
Hospital workers at the Hsinwu branch of Taoyuan General Hospital commence MERS outbreak drills yesterday, under the inspection of Health Minister Chiang Been-huang ( ). As the MERS outbreak in South Korea spreads, seven hospitals in the Taoyuan area completed negative pressure tests and preparation of 195 hospital beds, in order to tackle the possible outbreak and prevent inhouse infections.