Taiwan Asks Italy to End Coronavirus-Based Flight Ban
(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan is urging Italy to reconsider a three-month flight ban to and from the island, an official at Taiwan’s representative office in Rome said, saying that Italy is treating it as a part of China.
Italy last week suspended flights from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from Feb. 2 to April 28 to prevent the spread of coronavirus after two cases were reported in Rome.
The government in Taipei has stressed to its counterpart in Rome the limited incidence of the disease on the island, the official said, asking not to be named discussing confidential matters.
To date Taiwan has reported only 10 cases of the disease, and no deaths.
Taiwan’s Vice President-elect is set to make the most high-profile visit to the U.S. by a Taiwanese politician in decades, a move likely to further strain ties between Washington and China, as the world seeks a coordinated response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Beijing claims the self-governed island as part of its territory.
Some U.S. politicians have criticized international organizations for excluding Taiwan amid the global effort to curb the spread of the disease.
The World Health Organization declared the virus a public health emergency, but didn’t permit Taiwan to attend emergency briefings.
Taiwan-based EVA Airways Corp. had been due due to start direct service to Milan’s Malpensa airport on Feb. 18, with some 5,000 tickets already booked, the official said.
Taiwan flagship carrier China Airlines operates three flights per week on the Taipei-Rome route.
About 500 Taiwanese tourists are stranded in Italy and will have to be rerouted through other European cities, according to the official.
A spokesman for Italy’s health ministry didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s office also didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
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