Taipei: Taiwan's government launched two new taxi services Wednesday for people who need to make essential trips to and from their home quarantine locations, in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID 19 coronavirus.
The service will be introduced on a one week trial basis, after which people in home quarantine will risk fines of between NT$100,000 (US$3,334) and NT$1 million if they are found to be taking public transportation, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
The first service, which was announced Monday by Transportation Minister Lin Chia lung (???), provides special transportation for the approximately 1,000 travelers who arrive daily from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Italy and Iran and are required to remain in home quarantine for 14 days.
According to Lin, about 60 percent of travelers from those countries do not have private transportation on arrival and therefore need help getting to their home quarantine locations.
With the launch of the special taxi program, the government has contracted several drivers to provide transportation from Songshan, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung international airports under strictly enforced sanitation standards.
At a launch ceremony on Wednesday, Taoyuan International Airport Corporation Vice President Tan Chao pi (???) said 620 drivers were on standby to provide transportation for the 300 arriving passengers during the day, who would require home quarantine.
At Kaohsiung International Airport, meanwhile, officials told CNA that due to flight cancellations, only 38 passengers who would requiring home quarantine were due to arrive Wednesday, and 403 registered taxis were on standby.
In a similar move, several city governments on Wednesday introduced services to transport home quarantine patients to and from their medical appointments.
The operations vary, depending on the locations, but in Taipei they are managed by the city's health department, Yu kai (???), a section chief in the Taipei department of transportation, told CNA.
When a patient makes a request for transportation, health officials decide whether to dispatch a taxi or ambulance, based on the situation, Wang said.
Currently, two taxi drivers in Taipei have been contracted on a monthly basis and are not allowed to accept other passengers, he said.
He said the contacted drivers are being paid NT$3,500 (US$117.01) per day, separate from whatever they might make in fares, and will also be required to remain in home quarantine for 14 days at the end of their contract period.
In Kaohsiung, meanwhile, health department technical specialist Pan Chao ying (???) told CNA the city has hired four drivers to transport people in home quarantine, who numbered 961 as of Monday.
The drivers have been employed to each work 26 days per month at a daily wage of NT$3,500 and are not permitted to charge the passengers, he said.
In New Taipei City, the government has allocated a paratransit bus and assigned one driver to transport people in home quarantine but may expand the service based on demand, the city's department of transportation said.
In other locations such as Taoyuan, Taichung and Tainan, where demand for the service is lower, the program is still in the planning stages, city officials told CNA
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel