The 2022 Smart City Summit & Expo has kicked off in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The grand opening was marred on Tuesday, by a foreign guest testing positive for COVID at a hotel. Under a one-time travel corridor program, more than a dozen business travelers were allowed to leave the airport without virus screening or proof of a PCR test. The incident has renewed controversy over the so-called “economic travel bubbles” that are available to business travelers.
This year’s Smart City Summit & Expo is underway. More than 30 guests were flown in from 10 countries to participate in the event. They were granted entry through a one-time travel bubble program that’s raised alarm, after an arrival from Belize tested positive for COVID at a Taipei hotel. Critics ask why the group was allowed to enter without a PCR test at the airport.
Don’t worry, we have a first line and second line of defense. At any rate, we will handle this situation. The key is that our system had a backup. Don’t be anxious. We check everything in the end.
A total of 17 exhibition participants flew in from overseas Monday morning. They were not asked to provide proof of a negative COVID test. They were also not screened for COVID at the airport. Carrying only proof of double vaccination, they were taken directly to their hotel, where they were given PCR tests by Taipei City Hospital staff. One member of a Belize delegation tested positive with a CT value of 35. Following the diagnosis, seven people, including the mayor of Belize City, were placed in quarantine. They will not be attending the exhibition.
Taipei Department of Health
The serum antibodies of the confirmed patients have been sampled. We will later determine whether these are old cases. These seven guests sat in the same area on the flight over. At present, their PCR tests are all negative. In addition, there are two locals who received the foreign guests and are their close contacts. These two people have been placed in home isolation.
Commenting on the incident, the Taipei City government said it had handled the arrival in line with all current epidemic regulations. According to the CECC, travel bubble guests are always kept apart from the general public, by design. Travel bubble guests must be tested on the day of their arrival – not necessarily at the airport.
The expo participants did not refuse to get tested. Everyone cooperated during the screening. The convenience of the testing location was the main concern. Since everyone has to get screened after coming in, what matters is where this screening can be done most efficiently.
The expo’s organizer, Taipei Computer Association, said that foreign guests were asked to be double-vaccinated for at least 14 days before arrival. They were also required to pass two PCR tests after arrival, either at the airport or their hotel. The organizer emphasized that the confirmed case had not interacted with the general public.