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June 26, 2017

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Ebola-affected countries subject to strict visa screening: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Visa applications submitted by residents of Ebola-affected countries are now subject to strict screening due to a deadly outbreak of the virus in Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said.

Roger Luo (羅添宏), deputy director-general of MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs, told local media that Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria are the worst affected areas in the latest Ebola outbreak.

As of Aug. 15, a total of 2,027 confirmed cases have been reported in the four countries, as well as 1,145 related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

As part of a coordinated response, Taiwan's only representative office in the area, in Nigeria, has beefed up control measures for those who enter its office compound following the outbreak, Luo said.

Those who enter and leave the office are required to have their body temperature checked, he noted.

The office also issued a stricter screening process for those living in the four African countries who wish to apply for a visa to visit Taiwan, he added.

According to MOFA, only around 10 people in each of the four countries apply for a Taiwan visa annually.

Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said last week that Taiwan has been closely monitoring the latest developments in an Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria and will make adjustments to its travel warning for the area, if necessary.

"Currently the travel warning issued to Nigeria has stayed at orange," Lin told reporters last Tuesday. The ministry will continue to evaluate the situation to make timely adjustments when necessary, he said.

Under MOFA's four-color coded travel advisory system, an "orange" alert is the second highest level of warning following red, meaning Taiwanese travelers should take precautions and avoid the area if possible.

Lin made the remarks when asked to comment on MOFA's responsive measures against an Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria and if the ministry will raise its travel warning for the country to red, the highest-level warning in MOFA's four-color system, to urge Taiwanese travelers to refrain from visiting the country for the time being.

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