Taiwan closes borders as cases surge

World | Sophie Hui 18 May 2021

Sophie Hui

Taiwan will no longer allow non-residents to enter the island from tomorrow as it reported a new daily record of 335 Covid-19 cases yesterday.

Health minister Chen Shih-chung announced that starting midnight until June 18, all foreigners without a residence permit are not allowed to enter the island, except for those with emergency and humanitarian purposes. All transit flights through Taiwan will also be suspended.

"Our medical capacity is under pressure and there continues to be imported cases. We have to reserve our medical capacity for locals," Chen explained, adding that the arrangement would also free up space at quarantine hotels.

All schools as well as day-care and tutorial centers in Taipei and New Taipei will be closed until May 28, with classes to be held online.

Among the 335 cases, 333 were local, with 158 in Taipei and 148 in New Taipei.

A total of 155 cases were from the teahouse cluster, while 86 confirmed patients had visited Taipei's Wanhua District.

In addition to serving tea, the teahouses also serve food and allow customers to sing karaoke. Female servers also often interact with customers, increasing the risk of infection.

A Hongkonger who lives in Taiwan explained that elderly men would patronize these teahouses and get intimate with the female servers.

"That's why there is a nickname for such activity: the patting tea," he said, explaining that customers would "pat" the servers.

However, many men are reluctant to admit that they had visited such teahouses, increasing the difficulty of contact tracing work.


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