Charter flights carrying Taiwanese from Wuhan, China during COVID-19

Submitted by Tsaotun Psychiatric Center, Ministry of Health and Welfare
May 8, 2020

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwan government was cautious about the emerging infectious by lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak. While most countries evacuated from China, the Taiwan government should negotiate with China and schedule “Wuhan Return to Taiwan Charter Mode” before evacuate due to the particular political situation. On March 10, the charter flights that run by Taiwan and China respectively carried a total of 361 evacuees from Wuhan, China to Taiwan.

The government assembled a cross-departmental taskforce team to manage the quarantine procedures of the charter flights. Our team members, consisted of 4 physicians and 9 nurses, overcome some challenges to carry out this mission. First, our volunteer members from different hospitals interpreted soon under the belief of carrying evacuees safely. Second, our members in protective suits needed limiting the diet and using the toilet during the flight. Third, we set up 361 evacuees’ protective gear and monitored their symptoms, provided education and conducted health evaluations before boarding Taiwan. Fourth, because of political opposition between China and Taiwan, getting entry requirements from China government and facing the delay of air rights of the return route were the extra challenge.

Upon arrival, the evacuees were placed to quarantine sites for 14 days. Persons with COVID-19 could have no or minimal symptoms1, remain undiagnosed but contagious, and pose a risk of our team. The staffs overcome the fear and anxiety and got our president’ reception and thanks in person. This was a successful anti-epidemic charter project.