Despite being next door—just 80 miles from mainland China, Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, has an excellent record with the small number of coronavirus infections. They have kept the numbers extremely low, just 48 confirmed cases. This is extraordinary, considering the country has to deal with millions of visitors from China every year.
The aggressive measures they began implementing in December have proven to help keep the number of infections down to almost none.
Take the Netherlands as an example, although they have a similar population to Taiwan, are 4,649 miles apart and have much less contact with China, its coronavirus numbers are five times those of Taiwan.
The coronavirus was expected to be severe in Taiwan, given its proximity to China, with 80,932 cases to date.
With several countries such as Italy, the United States, and the UK now struggling to deal with the number of cases, others are beginning to sit up and take notice of how Taiwan is doing it. What is Taiwan doing that perhaps many other countries aren’t?
Experts believe early intervention has played a big part. The SARS epidemic taught Taiwan valuable lessons, and one was to be proactive.
Jason Wang, a Stanford Health Policy researcher published a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association with coauthors Chun Y. Ng in Taipei and Robert H. Brook of UCLA. Wang maintains that Taiwan’s methods, which includes 124 plans of action and coordination, is what has saved the country from a major outbreak. Included were social distancing, travel bans, surveillance steps, quarantine, and many other proactive steps.
The government of Taiwan was quick to act after the number of infections in mainland China began to increase. Even as the first few cases began to emerge in Wuhan, health officials in Taiwan began boarding all incoming flights from Wuhan, from the end of December, checking passengers for symptoms. They were able to track every case of infection. They placed a ban on visitors from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and banned the export of surgical masks, ensuring they had ample supplies for themselves. Using phone tracking to enforce mandatory quarantine is another tool Taiwanese are utilizing to help contain the virus.
Dr. Wang said that Taiwan was well prepared, having learned lessons from previous viral infections in the country.
“Taiwan established the National Health Command Center (NHCC) after the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003. That was in preparation for the next crisis,” said Wang, adding that the NHCC integrates data and allows experts to work together, reports DW.