TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan does not need to ban Chinese tourists from visiting due to the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China, as the World Trade Organization (WHO) has not recommended any travel restrictions over the virus, a local health expert said Monday.
Although the WHO said there is currently no evidence of H7N9 human-to-human transmission, Taiwan is still concerned that an anticipated influx of Chinese tourists in the coming week over the Labor Day holiday might impact Taiwan’s H7N9 epidemic control and prevention work.
Based on International Health Regulations (IHR), the WHO has maintained its global advisory for combating the disease, urging against contact with live poultry but not recommending any restrictions against travel to China.
Under such circumstances, Ho Mei-shang, a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Biomedical Sciences, said there is no need to ban Chinese tourists from Taiwan.
Ho said that travel restrictions for Chinese tourists to the country could violate human rights.
Chou Jih-haw, deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Department of Health, called on guides and leaders of Chinese tour groups to dissuade their charges from visiting Taiwan if they are detected to have a fever before departing from China. He also suggested that their Taiwanese counterparts adopt the same measures.
However, Huang Li-min, head of National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital’s division of pediatric infectious diseases, suggested that the government impose restrictions on individual Chinese tourists visiting the country.
Asked about who will pay for isolating foreign tourists discovered to have H7N9, CDC Director-General Chang Feng-yee said the fees are currently paid by the government, in accordance with the law.
Chang made the comments in the face of public concern that a sharply increasing number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan could cause significant spending increases in this area and pose difficulties in H7N9 epidemic control and prevention.