On May 10, 2021, Taiwan’s Health Minister announced that it would impose 14-day quarantine measures on all pilots of its largest air carrier China Airlines. The move came amid a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases linked to an airport hotel.
Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that the only way to stop the COVID-19 transmission at China Airlines was to impose a 14-day self-isolation mandate to all pilots who reside in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) also ordered all China Airlines pilots working overseas to fly back to Taiwan to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The pilots would be allowed to finish 14-day self-isolation after getting a negative COVID-19 test.
“This will have a big impact on China Airlines, on its passenger and freighter flights, and for the crew too. But for the safety of the whole community we cannot but make this decision,” Chen said, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan was linked to the airport hotel where China Airlines pilots have been staying. There have been 35 COVID-19 cases confirmed and linked to the outbreak since April 29, 2021.
In response to the quarantine measures, China Airlines announced it would divide its aircrew members into groups and successively arrange for the 14-day quarantine phase. The airline will prioritize cargo operations. However, decreased numbers of available cockpit crew would “affect the delivery time of goods”, the airline warned.
“China Airlines will make every effort to deploy available manpower,” read the statement. “At present, both passenger and cargo flights are still being adjusted.”
To this day, Taiwan’s total case numbers remain low compared with those of some other parts of the world, with only 1,119 cases and 12 deaths from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.