Last Updated on 12-30-2023

While COVID-19 cases continue to hit new highs in Taiwan due to the spread of the unforgiving Omicron variant, you might be wondering how long will it take before you get infected with the virus; especially if you have not been vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated, you may still have similar fears.

Although COVID-19 vaccines effectively reduce the risks of hospitalization and death, it is still possible to get COVID-19 and spread it to others after being vaccinated. Generally, people who are unvaccinated face a higher risk of infection, severe illness, and death.

Feeling COVID-19 symptoms

If you are still racking your head trying to figure out how you might have gotten infected with COVID-19, you should know that people without symptoms can spread the coronavirus infection to others. According to Harvard Health, a person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 hours before starting to experience symptoms. Therefore if you happen to experience any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, you might be among the thousands who have been infected in Taiwan:

Most common symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • tiredness
  • loss of taste or smell

Less common symptoms:

  • sore throat
  • headache
  • aches and pains
  • diarrhea
  • a rash on the skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes
  • red or irritated eyes.

Serious symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • loss of speech or mobility, or confusion
  • chest pain

Usually, COVID-19 signs and symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and range from mild symptoms to severe illness. The good news is that majority of infected individuals will only develop mild to moderate symptoms. While anyone can develop severe symptoms, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to develop severe symptoms from the virus.

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According to the Taiwan CECC, individuals who develop severe symptoms should call 119 and notify the operator that they are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19 and needs medical attention immediately.

On the other hand, individuals who develop mild to moderate symptoms are advised to take a COVID-19 antigen rapid test at home.

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Individuals wanting to purchase discounted antigen rapid test kits in Taiwan can visit a convenience store (7-11, Family Mart, etc.,) or pharmacy in their vicinity. Due to the surge in COVID-19 local cases, rapid test kits may be sold out at convenience stores and individuals may need to purchase “subsidized at-home COVID-19 test kits” (subsidized rapid test kits) at a National Health Insurance (NHI) – contracted pharmacy or district public health center under Taiwan’s name-based rationing system.

Purchasing a subsidized rapid test kit under Taiwan’s name-based rationing system

Who is eligible to purchase?

Regardless of age, all individuals who have a National Health Insurance Card or a Resident Certificate can purchase a rapid test kit. Foreigners in Taiwan who do not have an ARC/APRC or NHI card are not eligible to purchase these rapid tests. Seriously?

Where can I purchase it?

Subsidized COVID-19 rapid test kits are made available for purchase at the following designated locations in Taiwan.

How many rapid test kits can I purchase at once?

In each round, you can use your National Health Insurance (NHI) card to purchase one pack of 5 test kits. Each kit costs NT$100 and one pack costs NT$500. You can also purchase a rapid test kit on behalf of another individual.

On what days can I purchase rapid test kits?

As of June 3rd, 2022, the days on which you can buy rapid test kits will no longer be restricted by the last digit of your ARC/APRC number. You can now purchase test kits on any day based on your needs.

The days on which you can buy rapid test kits are no longer restricted by the last digit of your ARC/APRC number.
The days on which you can buy rapid test kits are no longer restricted by the last digit of your ARC/APRC number.

Taiwan’s CECC has stated that at least 50 million kits will be distributed among the population.

Doing an antigen rapid test for COVID-19

Step by step instructions

  1. Wash your hands with soap 🙂
    To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Prepare your test area and check your kit contents
    Clear, clean, and dry a flat surface immediately before starting the test.
  3. Take your swap sample
    Insert the entire fabric tip of the swab into your nostrils. Do not insert the swab any deeper if you feel strong resistance or pain.
  4. Process the swab sample
    Pick up the extraction buffer tube and place the fabric tip of the swab into the tube so it is in the liquid. For best performance, test the nasal swab as soon as possible after swabbing your nostrils.
  5. Read your result
    Wait for 15 minutes to read the result. Do not read the result after 30 minutes.
  6. Interpretation of results
    Negative result
    If you get a negative result, it is likely you were not infectious at the time the test was taken.
    Void result
    If you get a void result, this means that the test was not run correctly.
    Positive result
    If you get a positive result, it is likely you are currently infected with COVID-19 and risk infecting others.

If your test result is positive, do not throw it away. You will need it to take it with you to a hospital or health clinic in Taiwan to confirm the result.

Most antigen rapid test kits follow these principles but may differ slightly so please follow the manufacturer’s instructions in your antigen rapid test kit.

My rapid test result is positive. What must I do now?

If your antigen rapid test result is positive, you are required to set up an appointment at a hospital or health clinic in Taiwan to undergo a PCR test to confirm the result. An appointment to confirm your rapid test can be set up at any of the following locations in Taiwan.

The confirmation of the PCR test can be done online with a doctor from a hospital or a health clinic or it can be done by going to the hospital/health clinic.

Those who fail to apply for a PCR test will face punishment if authorities discover they have evaded regulations.

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Traveling to a health clinic or hospital

Emergency medical care:

According to the Taiwan CECC individuals who develop severe symptoms for e.g. difficulty breathing, persistent pain, or pressure in the chest should call 119 and notify the operator that they are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19 and needs medical attention immediately.

Non-emergency medical care testing:

Individuals who develop mild to absolutely no symptoms at all are strongly advised to take a quarantine taxi to go to a testing clinic to confirm their results. Other forms of transportation, such as riding or driving with another individual in the same residence or seeking medical attention are permitted. Walking is also permitted; however, it is only for the fit of the fittest. 🙂

After the test is complete you will be required to go home and wait for the result. You can return home using any one of the transportation methods listed above. Choose wisely XD!

Taiwan COVID-19 contact tracing self-reporting system

Recently, Taiwan’s CECC launched a contact tracing self-reporting system for confirmed cases.

If your PCR test is positive, the system will send a text message (from the number 0911-514588) to your phone number. The message will provide you with a one-time link (https://bbs.cdc.gov.tw). You are required to click the link, log into the system, and fill in the necessary information.

If you have any question, please feel free to ask us.


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在〈What to do if you start to develop COVID-19 symptoms in Taiwan?〉中有 3 則留言

  1. Natasha Stewart

    I’m trying to find a doctor to do an online evaluation. My rapid test was positive. I’m too weak to drive. I live alone and don’t want to expose my friends so I stayed home all day. How do I get a quarantine taxi? How can I get an online evaluation (I called 1922 and they said to look for one). I’m a teacher so no assistance is provided.

  2. Manuel Reyes

    How is quarantine protocol when I stay in Taiwan 3 nights 4 days?

    1. Hi Manuel, as long as the hotel you are staying at is okay with the 0+7 policy you are fine. You are allowed to go out visit places but you need to do the rapid test within 2 days before going out. I hope that answers your question