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Talks wrapping up on Taiwan-Palau travel bubble

Talks are wrapping up on the establishment of a Taiwan-Palau travel bubble. Officials say that negotiations for the arrangement are in their final stage, with only one sticking point left to hash out. Once the program starts, tourists from Taiwan will be able to visit the western Pacific island nation without enduring long periods of home isolation on both sides. Officials say they”re already in talks to set up bubbles with more countries, including Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.

From COVID testing, to immigration, to luggage collection. Palauan airport staff drills every step of the arrivals procedure to prepare for the arrival of Taiwanese travelers. Talks are proceeding smoothly over the Taiwan-Palau travel bubble. There’s only one question left to sort out: Whether to use rapid COVID screening on travelers.

Hung Tzu-jen
Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital
At Palau’s airport, they want to use Abbott’s rapid antigen test to check that all the travelers are OK, so they can get on with their itineraries quickly.

Chen Shih-chung
Central Epidemic Command Center
They want to do rapid screening. Everyone knows that antigen rapid tests produce a fairly high rate of false positives, so those tests can really disrupt your whole itinerary. We should hold ourselves to high standards, making sure that our PCR tests are done very accurately, so that they can win the trust of Palau.

Palau is pushing for several requirements on travelers, including a negative PCR test administered within three days of boarding. It also wants travelers to pass an antigen rapid test upon landing, with those testing positive to be given a nucleic acid test. Taiwan officials, however, want to go straight to nucleic acid tests and avoid antigen rapid tests completely, saying they have a higher rate of false positives. According to their plan, Taiwanese travelers returning from Palau would need to complete five days of a more stringent form of self-health management. If they test negative for COVID, they can start nine days of the standard self-health management.

Chen Shih-chung
Central Epidemic Command Center
The stringent form involves even closer monitoring of one’s health. Any symptoms experienced must be reported to the authorities.

Transport minister Lin Chia-lung says there are four countries besides Palau that are in talks with Taiwan about establishing travel bubbles.

Lin Chia-lung
Transport minister
Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam are all in talks with us. Besides Palau, Singapore has been very eager.

Talks are underway with Singapore, where COVID is relatively under control. The transport ministry says it will work with the CECC to establish travel bubbles one by one.


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