COVID-19: Tests and mask for US health chief Alex Azar on Taiwan visit

TAIPEI: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and his delegation will have to be tested for the novel coronavirus before getting to Taiwan and again when they arrive, and they must wear masks, a government official said on Thursday (Aug 6).

Azar's will be the most senior US official to visit Taiwan in four decades – a trip that has angered China, which claims the democratic island as its own. Washington broke off official ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing.

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Taiwan has won praise for its steps to control the coronavirus, including strict border quarantine controls and the widespread wearing of masks, which have won broad public support.

Taiwan Centres for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang told reporters that members of the US delegation would be tested before leaving for Taiwan, and again upon entry at the airport.

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Only if they are negative will they be allowed in.

"They must wear masks at all times," Chuang said.

"There are rules on where they can go," he added, saying that Taiwan's often crowded night markets would not be on the list for private visits.

The members of the US delegation, when meeting government officials, will also have to maintain social distancing, Chuang said. They will also use dedicated elevators "to avoid any risks", he said.

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