Thanks to its quick, decisive and transparent response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Taiwan has so far avoided the situation of having to block all economic and social activities on a large scale like China and many other countries.
Australia and Taiwan have similar populations, about 24 million. Both are islands, easy to control people entering and leaving the border despite having close trade and transport relations with mainland China.
But 10 weeks later, Australia had more than 5,500 cases of SARS-CoV-2 virus, while Taiwan recorded less than 400, CNN journalist James Griffiths said.
The question is not that Australia did anything wrong, because after all, there are 20 countries with more COVID-19 cases than Australia (7 of them more than 10), but the problem is how Taiwan. – not being a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) – control diseases so well while Europe, the US … struggling?
During the acute respiratory infection epidemic (SARS) in 2003, Taiwan was one of the severely affected territories, along with Hong Kong and southern China. At that time more than 150,000 people in Taiwan were isolated, 181 died.
Although SARS is nothing compared to the current crisis, its aftershocks are still imprinted in the minds of people in some areas of Asia, including Taiwan. This is part of the reason these countries and territories respond to COVID-19 faster and more seriously than the rest of the world.
At both the government and social levels, preventive measures were quickly implemented and widely accepted, such as border control, isolation, zoning …
In many places, the habit of wearing anti-virus masks has been around since January, rather than waiting until the World Health Organization (WHO) began to recommend it.
Some definitive measures applied early in Taiwan are banning people from China from entering the country, not allowing yachts to dock, strictly punishing violators of the home isolation order …
In addition, the Taiwanese government has boosted the production of medical masks in the country, conducting extensive testing, including those who previously had unexplained pneumonia. Acts of spreading false information on epidemics are also punished.
It all happened quickly in the middle of the debate over what other countries should do. In a report published in January 2020, John Hopkins University (USA) assessed that Taiwan was at great risk because of its proximity to and from mainland China.
But thanks to its quick, decisive and transparent response, the island avoids the scenario of having to block all activities on a large scale like China and many other countries.
In recent days, a severe crisis in the US and Europe partly obscured the success of epidemic prevention in some places like Taiwan. However, Europe – America, even if they want to apply those lessons, are afraid it is too late.
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